Collection Connection: Kehinde Wiley

Collection Connection: Kehinde Wiley

Rhys Munro, Art Preparator

What is a work of art in the McNay Collection that you have a connection to?

There are many works in the McNay Collection that I have a connection to, but one work in the galleries right now that stands out for me is Kehinde Wiley’s bronze bust Kanye, 2015. The sculpture is on loan from a private collection and I was involved in installing the sculpture, which is currently on display in the portrait gallery.

Having followed and admired both Kehinde Wiley and Kanye West’s iconic artistic journeys made being part of the process even more special. Kanye challenges and pushes the boundaries, constantly remaining innovative, experimenting with music and sound from house-music to gospel. The audience appreciates the contemporary nonconformity of Kanye’s music in the same way we can appreciate Kehinde Wiley’s approach to portraiture which is a brilliant cultural remix of old and new.

What is something you know about this work of art that others might learn from?

This sculpture is life size to scale and part of a limited edition set of 3 and 2AP (artist proofs). This bust is on loan from San Antonio collectors Guillermo Nicholas and Jim Foster.

What are you still curious about?

I am curious as to who originally commissioned the sculpture. Also, what other museums or collections have a Kanye bust?

Tell us a bit about you and what you do at the McNay.

I am an art preparator (art handler) at the Museum. My job involves installing/deinstalling exhibitions, which includes everything from painting the gallery walls, to lighting, to unpacking and installing the art. It’s exciting working at the McNay. There is always something new in every exhibition.

What are you most looking forward to when the McNay reopens? Or what are you doing to exercise creativity during isolation?

I cannot wait to reopen! What I am looking forward to the most is just being around our amazing collection again on a daily basis. My coworkers too, I miss the art preparator team. All of us are active artists in the community, and we are always discussing art, critiquing, and sharing ideas. During quarantine, I’ve been staying creative by painting, sketching, and playing my guitar.

Image, top: Kehinde Wiley American, born 1977. Kanye, 2015. Bronze. On loan from the collection of Guillermo Nicholas and Jim Foster.