James Kennedy is a visual artist (born 1973 in Quebec City) who lives and works in Montreal. Using the techniques of laser cutting, etching, screen printing and photography, he creates large sculptural steel surfaces engraved and/or carved with figurative elements, seeking to express the raw beauty and strength of the material by exploring its physical possibilities and relations to geology, geography and industry.
Following his series Continents (2008–14), Islands, and Lakes (2014–17), Kennedy’s latest work focuses on industrial sites and structures reflecting the historical uses of steel in architecture and engineering. The specific attention he gives to the representation of bridges stems from his childhood in Quebec City. Growing up near the Pont de Québec (1903–1917) and the Tracel de Cap-Rouge (1906–1908), he was visually exposed to two of the most imposing and outstanding industrial landmarks of the Province of Quebec. At the same time, he was initiated to the visual arts in his mother’s studio.
After completing a degree in Business Administration at Laval University and HEC Montreal, James Kennedy worked for different companies, including the Cirque du Soleil, before gradually reconnecting with his early artistic interests by specialising in the field of commercial design. In 2005, he founded his own design and production company, K-One, and devoted himself to the creative conception and individual manufacturing of interior spaces and public installations.
In 2008, Kennedy’s increasing interest in steel led him to further exploit the beauty and nobleness of the material by creating independent artworks, manipulating industrial steel panels to transform them into wall sculptures. Over the years, he has worked intensely with his chosen medium and developed different techniques in order to enhance the natural patterns inherent to the steel surfaces he carefully selects, pairing abstract organic motifs with the subjects of continents, islands and lakes. More recently, his experiments with etching and screen printing led him to integrate photography into his work, as can be seen in the Bridges series.
While Continents playfully dealt with the themes of origins, belonging and displacement, Kennedy’s series of international bridges now in progress, and initiated with the Jacques Cartier Bridge in Montreal, is even more closely related to his own roots as it evokes memories of the Cap-Rouge viaduct of his youth, literally and figuratively bridging his past, and present, within the larger context of place and development.