Artist Kevin Sampson is based in Newark’s Ironbound neighborhood, where you can often find him creating his found-object sculptures in his friend Ronald Nitti’s custom woodworking shop. Kevin always wanted to be an artist, but for 18 years was in the police force, where he trained as a sketch artist. Since retiring early and moving to Newark in the 1990s, he’s been an artist full time.
Kevin Sampson’s art is, at once, political, spiritual, and historic. His work is in museums, he’s represented by the Cavin-Morris Gallery in Chelsea, and he shows his work around the country. During the Fall of 2018, Kevin Sampson has three solo shows: “Black and Blue” at the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey in Summit; “Olde Soul” at Express Newark’s Box Gallery, part of the Paul Robeson Galleries; and, “Monument Man” at the Mystic Seaport Museum in Connecticut, where he spent three weeks as an artist in residence. During his time there, he created a piece using an historic dinghy as a base. Called the “USS Kye Kye Kule,” Kevin dedicated it to Kea Tawana, a self-taught artist and engineer who built a 3-story Ark in Newark’s Central Ward in the 1980s. She took it down in 1987 after a fight with the city.
Produced by Susan Wallner; Narrated by Dan Gordon; Videography by Joe Conlon, with additional footage courtesy of Mystic Seaport Museum and New Jersey Public Broadcasting Authority. Photographs of Kea’s Ark by Camilo José Vergara.