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Interview: Kevin Jerome Everson - Contemporary American Artist and 'Black Filmmaker'

Shadow and Act By Terri Francis | Shadow and Act January 21, 2014 at 5:29PM

A Kevin Everson film combines archival, scripted, reenacted, and documentary elements for a look and feel that is sophisticated and no-nonsense like the artist himself. He’s made over 100 films and still cookin. Last year the Alpert Foundation and the California Institute of the Arts recognized his unique artistic vision with a 2012 Cal Arts/Alpert Award, an honor that has been held by such luminaries as Carrie Mae Weems, Kerry James Marshall and Suzan-Lori Parks. 
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Century, 2012, 16mm, 6:40, color, sound; Courtesy of the artist; Trilobite-Arts-DAC and Picture Palace Pictures.
Century, 2012, 16mm, 6:40, color, sound; Courtesy of the artist; Trilobite-Arts-DAC and Picture Palace Pictures.

Editor's note: As 2014 begins, I've been reposting some of our 2013 highlights. Those who've already read each one can obviously skip them, or revisit if you'd like. For those who joined us later in the year, missing many of these posts from earlier in the year, they will probably be new items. Here's a piece originally published in early February 2013, which didn't get as much attention as I hoped it would. 

A Kevin Everson film combines archival, scripted, reenacted, and documentary elements for a look and feel that is sophisticated and no-nonsense like the artist himself. He’s made over 100 films and still cookin. Last year the Alpert Foundation and the California Institute of the Arts recognized his unique artistic vision with a 2012 Cal Arts/Alpert Award, an honor that has been held by such luminaries as Carrie Mae Weems, Kerry James Marshall and Suzan-Lori Parks. 

Born and raised in Mansfield, Ohio, Kevin watched Godzilla movies and he loved Blaxploitation as a young man. He made some films in college and did printmaking and photography. After getting his BFA from the University of Akron, he got his MFA from Ohio University. His current body of work includes six feature length films (Spicebush, 2005; Cinnamon, 2006; The Golden Age of Fish, 2008; Erie, 2010; Quality Control, 2011; The Island of St. Matthews, 2013) and dozens upon dozens of carefully wrought short form works.

Kevin is an art professor at the University of Virginia.

Kevin’s award-winning films screen around the world while his installations, paintings, sculpture and photographs are exhibited in renowned art institutions like the Centre Pompidou, the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Museum of Modern Art.

Kevin cusses like a trucker. He’s got an Ohio/Mississippi voice. He’s a character – gregarious and frank - with a reel of thoughts a lot like his films: spare and nonlinear yet full of humor, history, and place. A brilliant artist and an incisive observer of film culture.

I’ve known Kevin for eight years and this interview was an occasion to catch up but also to talk in depth about his working methods and experiences as a black experimental filmmaker.

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