"Latent Loneliness" by John(ny) McKee
As one who seeks inspiration from the omnipresent skies above us, John(ny) McKee is known primarily for his minimalist paintings, which he harvests from the fields of Indiana’s flat landscape. But his latest body of work brings something new to his horizons…the city.
“The urban feel of these pieces is very interesting for me,” McKee explained. “Typically my work centers on more rural subjects, so I had to switch gears for this body of work. I had a lot of ideas, but the one that stuck with me was simply replacing the horizons of my paintings with the tops of buildings in the city.”
As he began the work for “Latent Loneliness,” McKee wandered through the urban neighborhoods of the Indianapolis on the coldest days of the year looking for the right buildings to set on his horizons. “What I found as I started shooting these buildings was that I was drawn specifically to apartment buildings,” he said. “The more I looked at the images, the more I wondered about the people who live in these buildings, and how different loneliness in the city can be from loneliness in the country. Sometimes I wonder if it is a perceived loneliness. This is where the word ‘latent’ comes into play for me because this loneliness may just be underlying, or on the horizon. All of this is assumption on my part, but I think that is what is interesting about it.”
As McKee pondered the idea of how people can live so close together and yet sill experience the effects of loneliness, he captured this question in his work. McKee’s manipulated, grayscale photographs displaying the tops of our city's buildings help his viewers to recognize what is above them, to look outside of themselves and find life in the stars.
His works begs questions surrounding community and togetherness that so often go unasked. What does it mean to be a neighbor in my neighborhood? How is that guy who lives in the apartment above me doing? What is true hospitality?
As we view McKee’s contemplative work, and scan each white dot in his skies, let’s seek the answers together. Let’s turn our gaze toward the horizon and see our city anew.
John(ny) McKee’s show “Latent Loneliness” hangs in the City Gallery throughout the month of April.