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Crown of Rays

August 24th  - December 1st, 2019


Submissions for the first KMAC Triennial were open between December of 2018 and February of 2019. 221 artists who have spent formative years living in Kentucky submitted portfolios. These submissions were then reviewed by a committee of art professionals from around the state, led by KMAC Curator Joey Yates: Alice Gray Stites, Chief Curator and Museum Director at 21c; Dr. Emily Elizabeth Goodman, Curator and Assistant Professor of Art History at Transylvania University; and Matt Distel, Exhibitions Director at the Carnegie in Covington, KY. From this process, 20 artists representing diverse practices were then selected to participate and develop new work for the exhibition. 


In 1926, Kentucky lawmakers adopted the Goldenrod as the official state flower. From meadows and prairies to polluted city environments, it flourishes, heartily, among wide ranging conditions and soil types. Native Americans held the plant in high regard for its medicinal use in teas to treat fevers, kidney and bladder issues. Inspired by these and other healing properties it was given the Latin name Solidago, which means “to strengthen or make whole.” The assorted species that make up this category of flowering plants are vital to the ecology of this region, with a variety of pollinators indulging in their flowers. It also appears on the state flag in the form of a wreath, reminiscent of a ceremonial floral headdress. As a vestige of the landscape, the flower places the artists in a narrative about art and Kentucky, while the multiple varieties of the Goldenrod also position them within a wider context, aligning them with the desires and concerns of a broader public.

Triennial View 2.jpeg

Kissing Kissinger (Portrait of a Nobel Peace Prize Winner) 2019, Vinhay Keo.

Acrylic paint, photograph.

John Harlan Norris - Lexington, KY

Kristin Richards - Lexington, KY

Aaron Rosenblum - Louisville, KY

Harry Sanchez Jr. - Dayton, KY

Vian Sora - Louisville, KY

Hunter Stamps - Lexington, KY

Sean Starowitz - Bloomington, IN

Kiptoo Tarus - Lexington, KY

Melissa Vandenberg - Richmond, KY

Casey James Wilson - Lexington, KY


The Crown of Rays is one of over a hundred cultivated plants within the Goldenrod genus, distinctive for its spears of clustered tiny yellow flowers that jut out like sunrays and that recall the halos of saintly iconography. From ancient Egyptian deities, to Greco-Roman gods, and the Statue of Liberty, solar crowns are worn to signify the harnessed power of the sun. Numerable spiritual practices throughout history have attributed human values like beauty, devotion, love, adaptability, intellect and wisdom to a radiant crown’s individual rays of light. Extolling these virtues, casting light on the prevailing attitudes and concerns of contemporary culture, the artists selected for the 2019 KMAC Triennial will use their Kentucky roots to expose a system of communities and experiences that reach beyond our borders, reflecting the times and issues of a larger globalized network.


Rather than a theme and more of a guidestar for the exhibition, the Crown of Rays Goldenrod serves as a vivid symbol representing all creative thinkers, makers, and citizens of Kentucky, both native and foreign. Comprised of artworks that preserve certain traditions like weaving, crocheting, drawing, painting, and ceramics, this Triennial will also include the newer territories of conceptual photography, video, sound, installation and performance. 


The selected artists reflect the biodiversity of the state, as each firmly stems from this landscape and is a vibrant part of our contemporary art ecosystem.


KMAC Triennial 2019 Featured Artists:

Philis Alvic - Lexington, KY

Jimmy Angelina - Louisville, KY

Mary Carothers - Louisville, KY

Andrew Cozzens - Louisville, KY

Rachel Frank - Brooklyn, NY

Vinhay Keo - Van Nuys, CA

Lori Larusso - Lexington, KY

Sarah Lasley - San Antonio, TX

Bette Levy - Louisville, KY

Elizabeth Mesa-Gaido - Morehead, KY

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