Monument Man: Kevin Sampson in Residence to Open Saturday at Mystic Seaport Museum

Mystic Seaport Museum will inaugurate its artist-residency-program with leading American contemporary artist Kevin Sampson of Newark, New Jersey.


Mystic, Conn. (June 28, 2018) — Mystic Seaport Museum announces it will inaugurate its artist-residency-program with leading American contemporary artist, Kevin Sampson of Newark, New Jersey. Beginning Saturday, June 30, Sampson will be embedded at the Museum, living aboard a vessel docked on its waterfront, and working in an open studio where he can engage with the Museum community in the lead up to an exhibition of his work Monument Man: Kevin Sampson in Residence.

Sampson began his career as a police officer in New Jersey and was the first African American uniformed police composite sketch artist in the United States. Following his career, he developed a unique artistic practice transforming found materials such as cement, bones, tiles, fabric, paints, and wood into powerful sculptures that speak to family, memory, and loss through the lens of the African-American experience.

During the weeks he will spend in residence at the Museum, Sampson will make a new art installation, inspired by the Newark Ark of Kea Tawana. One of the more unusual vessels ever imagined, the 86-foot long, 20-foot wide ark was the work of a single woman, Kea Tawana, who constructed it from found materials in Newark’s destitute Central Ward beginning in 1982. Essentially complete in 1988, the city forced Tawana to deconstruct it or face demolition as an illegal structure. Sampson’s installation USS Kye Kye Kule will be created using a donated wooden Bevin’s skiff and materials collected from the Museum grounds. The name comes from a traditional African call-and-response song where the leader sings a line then the group repeats it. In this case, Sampson will be responding to Kea’s Ark.

Visitors will be invited to watch the artist at work in a temporary outdoor studio and to engage with him as he draws the very fabric of the Museum into a new and powerful vision of the American maritime experience. A selection of Sampson’s other works will be on-display in the adjacent C.D. Mallory Building. The new work will join the others in the gallery at the end of his residency.

“Kevin Sampson is showing our audience that there is a completely different perspective on what the American maritime experience is from what they might expect. We are excited to provide him a voice and platform to share that story,” said Steve White, president of Mystic Seaport Museum.

“The opportunity to work at Mystic Seaport Museum is a chance to become inspired by its exhibits and its history, and it’s a wonderful occasion to further explore my connections with the sea and its vessels,” said Sampson. “I have been making boats or vessels out of found objects, in one form or another, for over 30 years. I have always felt that in another life I lived that life somehow on the sea.”

Sampson’s residency begins June 30 and continues to July 14. Monument Man: Kevin Sampson in Residence will open June 30 and run into spring 2019.

About Mystic Seaport Museum

Mystic Seaport Museum, founded in 1929, is the nation’s leading maritime museum. In addition to providing a multitude of immersive experiences, the Museum also houses a collection of more than two million artifacts that include more than 500 historic vessels and one of the largest collections of maritime photography. The iconic Thompson Exhibition Building is a state-of-the-art gallery that is hosting The Vikings Begin: Treasures from Uppsala University, Sweden through September 30, 2018. Mystic Seaport Museum is located one mile south of Exit 90 off I-95 in Mystic, CT. For more information, please visit https://mysticseaport.wpengine.com/  and follow Mystic Seaport Museum on FacebookTwitterYouTube, and Instagram.