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MCCC’s James Kerney Campus Gallery Presents Photographer Kai McBride’s ‘Sky’s Gone Out’ Sept. 11 through Oct. 4
Reception and Artist Talk Sept. 12


New perspectives on air traffic in NYC and the iconic Empire State Building in "The Sky's Gone Out," which comes to the JKC Gallery in September. Photos by Kai McBride.

Trenton, N.J. – Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC's) James Kerney Campus Gallery (JKCG) presents “The Sky’s Gone Out,” a personal meditation on a post-9/11 New York City by the Brooklyn-based photographer Kai McBride. The show runs from Tuesday, Sept. 11 through Thursday, Oct. 4.

A community reception and artist talk take place Wednesday, Sept. 12 from 5 to 7 p.m. McBride's talk will begin at 6 p.m.

JKCG is located in MCCC's Trenton Hall, 137 North Broad Street, across the street from the Kerney Building. Hours for this exhibit are Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. More information is available on the JKCG website here.

According to JKCG Director and Curator Michael Chovan-Dalton, MCCC Professor of Photography and Digital Imaging, McBride has concentrated on two subjects that were profoundly altered for him following the traumatic events in 2001: the Empire State Building and commercial airplanes in the cityscape. The exhibit captures both subjects in a series of black and white silver-gelatin prints.

In his artist statement, the photographer writes: In 1971 the World Trade Center towers ended the Empire State Building’s four-decade reign as the tallest building in the world. Nearly 30 years later, as we witnessed the horror of the twin towers falling, the 102-story building was once again the tallest in New York. These photographs draw attention to the building’s stature and renewed significance by showing only the Art Deco spire slyly poking above and merging with elements of other buildings in the foreground.

“I became more conscious of the Empire State Building and its pervasive presence around Manhattan, its newfound vulnerability as a potential target, and especially its iconic hollow mast, which I learned had originally been conceived as a dock for airships,” McBride said.

McBride also developed a new perspective on airplanes, which, with three busy airports nearby, are a constant presence in the skies over New York City. “I vividly remember the first plane that I heard overhead when commercial flights were resumed after September 11th. I felt compelled to look up and follow its path, which ended in a little jolt as it disappeared behind a building. After having that feeling while watching planes intersect with buildings for several years, I decided to start photographing these moments,” he said.

McBride had been working on these two bodies of work separately until it occurred to him that they were stronger when seen together, emphasizing their common source in a loss of innocence and a new awareness of a scar in the skyline.

McBride has shown his work in group exhibitions at the Fayetteville Museum of Art; Black Mountain Center for the Arts; FoCi Art Fair; LeRoy Neiman Gallery; and the traveling Pannaroma exhibition. In October 2015, he had a solo show, “Untamed Southern Kudzu: Beset, Entwine, & Cloak,” in the Oresman Gallery at Smith College. His first monograph, About Face: Picturing Tampa, was published by SPQR Editions in Fall 2016.

McBride is an adjunct assistant professor at Columbia University and manager of the Photography Department Facilities. He completed high school at North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, studied film and photography at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and in 2008 received a MFA from Columbia University. More about McBride and his work is available here.

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