kendall with sculpture
  • Born 1967 - Milwaukee Area
  • Lived most of my life in Wisconsin and Georgia
  • 1986 graduated from Mukwonago (WI) High School salutatorian (2nd, class of 409)
  • 1990 graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Georgia with majors in zoology and microbiology
  • 1991-1994 worked as a Research Biologist at The Blood Center of S.E. Wisconsin
  • 1994 starting attending the Medical College of Wisconsin, eventually taking a leave of absence to pursue my art
  • Now I'm about 50, live in Milwaukee and I WELD JUNK !!!!!
    (Boy, if that just doesn’t make mom proud.)

Note: not a school trained artist, most recent art class: junior high school...Oh yeah, and that mandatory art history class at the U. of Georgia

Throughout my entire life I have built things and made furniture. But as for working with metal, I really have my brother Craig to thank for teaching me and helping me along the way. He has always had an auto shop and is a certified welder. So I was and am fortunate to have the tools readily available to me and someone to show me how to use them. I’m also fortunate to have parents who are just cool enough to tolerate me. Thanks Mom, Dad and Craig. If it were not for my brother, I would not be sculpting metal now. The irony, which is often part of life, is that for all the schooling I have had, my brother who has several learning disabilities and didn’t even graduate from high school, taught me what I do for my living. In one sense, for all the teachers and professors that have taught me, my learning disabled brother taught me the most important things. My heart goes out to him.

When I was out of college and working as a blood research biologist, I felt that I had a lot of free time, since I didn’t have to study for tests anymore. I’m not exactly sure why I started welding sculpture and furniture, but I always enjoyed art and I’m quite “handy”. Maybe it was a bit of rebellion against the perceived lack of easily evident creativity in the science fields that had been my entire life. I also saw a lot of people my age just “hanging out” at bars and I guess I wanted to do something different and a little more productive with at least some of my free time. (Not that I don’t down a few Pabsts or Millers every week) So I started off welding some metal tables for myself - the old college guy hand-me-down beat to all b’jesus furniture wasn’t happening anymore. But friends liked my furniture, so I sold some and made more.

Having worked in many phases of construction and landscaping, I like to build for reality. Often I like it when things have a function. Sometimes a bit of utilitarianism in sculpture is OK. The tables I make are hopefully built for what people want, not just for how I think they should be. Therefore I don’t mind if someone wants something change on a piece or has a request. I don’t believe the “artists conception” is the last word, other people have good ideas too.

I should probably mention that I started diligently sculpting when I was feeling a bit depressed (soup sandwich) over the ending of a relationship with a girlfriend. Sculpting took my mind off of the sadness. I guess it was my form of therapy. It was during this time that I welded my first dog. (Well, I cried my way right to the bank.) I guess a dog can’t help but make you happy. I had a dog, my best friend for over 18 years - Tuffy (a poodle-schnauzer mutt - free from the neighbors). We did it all together - swam in the swamp, slept in the same bed, and shared bananas. I generally don’t give my dog sculptures names; I want the people who purchase them to give them their own name. Once this is done, I feel the dog is complete. I hope they enjoy their new rusty junk dog. If I’m ever a little depressed, I know that when I weld a dog I’m guaranteed a little laugh and smile. It happens when I put the head on to the body. It is also neat to see how much personality you can give a dog just by varying the placement of the head, body and ears.


I’d like to say that I’m not too wacky. I have no artist statement like’ “Don’t eat squirrel” or that “The quasi-democratic machine that runs our nation needs to be defoliated.” No, no such statement.... at least no yet. Just some suggested reading, remember Green Eggs and Ham ...Sam I Am... I’m sure a little Dr. Suess never hurt any executive. I’m a realist in life and I enjoy Kitaro and a fine meal, but I’m also content with an episode of the Simpsons and can appreciate the 99¢ Whopper too. If some people don’t like my work and think it is trash, that’s OK; the world is full of many different people with many different opinions and tastes, and that’s what makes life on the earth exciting and great. As for my own criticism or critique of my own work, the chances of hearing more might increase over a few cold beers. But for now I guess I would call it manly art - no pastels or water colors here. As for classifying my art, call it outsider, folk, cool, crap, or whatever adjective you need to use is fine.


I should say that welding, torching and grinding metal can be quite the performing art in itself - it’s an experience: Torching through galvanized metal, watching the flames jet out as you pierce through then observing the yellow, green and blue haze glow for half a minute after you stopped torching as it continues to burn...Watching a shower of blazing orange sparks race up to blast you in the face as you torching...Feeling something hot on your leg while having the welding helmet with its dark protective lens on - flip up the helmet and see your pants are ablaze...Having a wet welding glove (to reduce the effect of the heat while welding at 6000 °F), losing your ground and taking the full 220 as your entire arm locks up - what a great relief you feel afterwards, you’re so incredibly calm and relaxed...Watching the fountain of sparks that burning magnesium produces while and after you stop torching on magnesium filled cast iron...Looking down at you feet to realize those Sears brand boots of yours, yes, are actually on fire...Feeling the immense heat of the torch or welding arc hit you in the face...Hearing the loud pop of the acetylene as you ignite it, because you had the flow rate too high, then the roaring hiss as you add the oxygen to the mixture of torch gasses... Hearing the snap that a chip of concrete makes as it explodes and leaps into the air because you accidentally got the torch flame too near the floor...Feeling a stray scorching hot welding b.b. as it runs down deep into your shoe, slowly extinguishing itself as it burns into your flesh...Or just simply burning the b’jesus out of yourself because you torched stoking hot metal with your bare skin...Watching molten metal ( something normally so solid) flow like honey...Breathing in a double lung full of choking noxious welding shielding gas...Burning off some grease or rubber and watching the black soot rise through the air....



And just imagine where the metal comes from - you won’t be wearing your new wing tips, high heals or white Nike running shoes there...40 feet up the old scrap pile for that “just right” part and it’s a brutal fall to the bottom...Or how about simply smashing that pliers into you nose as it slips off the steel wire you were pulling around and through some sculpture...Just be glad I wasn’t describing some of the numerous veterinary & human surgeries that I have been in on.

Well, thanks to the gallery folks for showing my “stuff” and also thanks very much to anyone who buys one of my sculptures.