Plastic toys, birthday candles, sparkly tiaras, baseballs and plush animals—the stuff of childhood isn’t always the simple happy stuff it seems. In the paintings and sculptural reliefs of Amanda J. Kendrick, these and other kiddie remains do double duty: they point clearly back to the time of early life, but also to what ought to have been but wasn’t there. How Kendrick achieves this is in the way that she treats her found, collected and referenced materials. In “Dad Doll,” colorful vintage plastic figures and furniture, half of them whited out, are lodged into concrete and hung on a wall, threatening to fall at any moment. A concrete cross embedded with birthday party paraphernalia ends in a sharp point, as if ready to be driven into the ground at the top of a grave. Two wee paintings of a baby being held by family ought to be full of tenderness but instead the paint clumps, the faces are blank, the whole slides away. The extent to which these artworks deal in Kendrick’s own family affairs is really not the viewer’s business; their ability to convey the fragility of childhood experience, and the continued impact it has on human life, most definitely is.
—Lori Waxman 2019-05-02 4:05 PM