Skip to content
Syncretism + Sustainability, Mel Kendrick in conversation with Sanford Biggers and Willie Cole

About the Speakers


Mel Kendrick is a preeminent American sculptor, whose thoroughgoing practice has involved the use of cast bronze, concrete, a variety of woods, rubber, resin, as well as investigations with cast paper. Kendrick addresses philosophical, conceptual, and fundamental questions around sculpture: namely, the relationship between the object as we experience it and the clearly evident means by which it was created. He was the subject of a major retrospective in 2021 at the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, MA, which traveled to the Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, NY, in 2022. He has been included in numerous significant solo and group exhibitions internationally, beginning with his solo debut at Artist’s Space, New York, in 1974. In 1984, his work was included in the The International Survey of Painting and Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art and the following year in the Whitney Biennial. In 2009, Kendrick was commissioned to create five monumental cement sculptures for Madison Square Park. Kendrick lives and works in New York.


Sanford Biggers NA was raised in Los Angeles and currently lives and works in New York City. Biggers’ work is an interplay of narrative, perspective, and history that speaks to current social, political, and economic happenings, while examining the contexts that bore them. His diverse practice positions him as a collaborator with the past through explorations of often-overlooked cultural and political narratives from American history. Working with antique quilts that echo rumors of their use as signposts on the Underground Railroad, he engages these legends and contributes to this narrative by drawing and painting directly onto them. The artist began working in marble after a residency as a 2017 Fellow at the American Academy in Rome. Drawing on and playing with the tradition of working in this medium, Biggers’ series entitled Chimeras creates hybridized forms that transpose, combine, and juxtapose classical and historical subjects to create alternative meanings and produce what he calls “future ethnographies.”


Willie Cole is a conceptual artist, who transforms objects, from steam irons to high-heeled shoes, into sculptures, installations, and works on paper. Mining his heritage and confronting the legacies of slavery in the United States, Cole creates work that uncovers ways objects store memories. Cole has had exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Bronx Museum of the Arts; Miami Art Museum; Tampa Museum of Art; University of Wyoming Art Museum; and Montclair Art Museum. In 2013, a traveling exhibition Complex Conversations: Willie Cole Sculptures and Wall Works opened at Albertine Monroe-Brown Gallery at Western Michigan University. Willie Cole: On-Site opened at the David C. Driskell Center, University of Maryland, and traveled to the Museum of Art at the University of New Hampshire, and Arthur Ross Gallery, Philadelphia. The following year, Cole had solo exhibitions at the Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame, and at the College of Architecture and Design Gallery, New Jersey Institute of Technology. In 2019, Willie Cole: Beauties opened at the Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University.


Will Corwin is a sculptor, journalist, and curator from New York. He has exhibited at The Clocktower, LaMaMa, and Geary galleries in New York, as well as galleries in London, Hamburg, Beijing, and Taipei. Most recently he completed a three-month residency at Atelier Mondial in Basel, CH. He has written regularly for The Brooklyn Rail, Artpapers, Bomb, Artcritical, Raintaxi, and Canvas, and formerly for Frieze. He is the editor of Formal Concerns: Collected Essays of Saul Ostrow, and author of the book &Model (2020), a history of a Grass-roots artist-run gallery in Northern England, published by Leeds Metropolitan University.


The Brooklyn Rail


Through its print journal, daily live programs, and curatorial endeavors, the Brooklyn Rail has provided an independent forum for arts and culture throughout New York City and far beyond since October 2000.


Sites of Impermanence artists Sanford Biggers NA, Willie Cole NA, and Mel Kendrick NA will participate in a conversation about formal innovation through the use and reuse of materials, hybridity, and the melding of different traditions of making. The discussion is presented in partnership with The Brooklyn Rail, and moderated by William Corwin. In ancient Greek, the term synkrētismos meant a “union of communities,” specifically to oppose a common enemy. Only in the 17th century was the word Anglicized to mean “the union of different religious beliefs.” This term now filled an emerging descriptive need for a process of cultural diffusion and hybridity that emerged through colonization. The artists will discuss how syncretism, with its fraught history, relates to their sculptural practices, and how looking back to move forward informs their work.


RESERVATIONS: Admission is free but reservations are required. The program will begin at 6:30 PM.


ACCESSIBILITY: This venue is fully accessible to wheelchairs. To request a free ASL (American Sign Language) interpretation or CART (Communication Access Real-Time Translation) captioning service, email your request at least two weeks in advance of the event to

Back To Top