BIOGRAPHY  ::  kenseth armstead


Kenseth Armstead has created provocative conceptual art for three decades. His work has been included in pivotal explorations of history, American culture, ethnicity, and institution defining moments. Selected historic exhibitions which include his work are: Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary Art at the Whitney Museum of American Art; Frames of Reference: Reflections on Media at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Race in Digital Space at the MIT List Visual Arts Center; Veni Vidi Video at the Studio Museum in Harlem (their first video exhibition in 2003); Open House: Working in Brooklyn at the Brooklyn Museum; "Edited at EAI": Video Interference at Electronic Arts Intermix (celebrating 45 years of their award winning collection)Modern Heroics, 75 years of African American Expressionism at the Newark Museum; and most recently, 

Washington 20/20/20 in Union Square Park, New York City.


Armstead’s videos, drawings and sculptures are included in the collections of: the Centre Pompidou; African American Museum in Dallas, Texas; The Newark Museum; and numerous public and private collections. Numerous reviews, which include, L Magazine, The New York Times, Art in America, The Village Voice, The Boston Globe and The Washington Post have favorably discussed his videos, sculptures and media installations.


Solo exhibitions of Armstead’s work have been mounted in galleries, kunsthalles, museums and alternative spaces. The list includes: Churner and Churner, New York, NY;  LMAKprojects, New York, NY; Eyebeam Art + Technology Center, New York, NY; and FUTURA centre for contemporary art, Prague, Czech Republic.


The list of grants won in support of Armstead’s work over the years include: the inaugural Skowhegan School of the Arts David C. Driskell Fellowship; the NYFA Video Fellowship; the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant; the NYSCA Individual Artist Award in Film/Video and New Technical Production; the Film/Media Grant from the Creative Capital Foundation; and the Digital Matrix Commission from the Longwood Arts Project and the Bronx Council on the Arts.


Armstead received a BFA from the Corcoran College of Art & Design in 1990. While still an undergraduate, he participated in the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Upon completion of his degree, he moved to New York City to attend the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program (1990-1991). He now holds an MS in Integrated Digital Media from the NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering(2005), which awarded him a full scholarship, Excellence in Integrated Digital Media Award.


Armstead has co-authored multimedia installations collaboratively with the art-band, X-PRZ, which he co-founded with his mentor Tony Cokes (1991-2001.) The art-band served to critique culture, resist the notion of the individual productive genius and challenge social norms, using ephemera, historical and documentary video as a base material. He was also the founding Managing Editor of Rhizome Internet, (rhizome[dot]org) which he helped launch with Mark Tribe in 1996. Before Rhizome there simply wasn’t criticism for new media art. Rhizome provided a focused and generous discursive platform for a new community of artists to consider the challenge of producing meaningful work outside the rules of painting and sculpture. 


Armstead participated as Artist in Residence at: Harvestworks; the Castle Trebesice, Prague, CZ; the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s, Workspace Program; Eyebeam Center for Art + Technology; Galley Aferro; Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s, Swing Space Program on Governors Island; the Brooklyn Museum, Library and Archive; Socrates Sculpture Park; the Louise Bourgeois Endowed Residency for a Sculptorat Yaddo; and currently the Drawing Center, Open Sessions Program (2018-2020).


The Siggraph Asia 2009 conference in Yokohama, Japan presented scenes from Armstead’s decade long Spook™ project in the Art Gallery. Outtakes from the Spook™ project were also included in a feature length documentary which was broadcast on PBS nationally; “Lafayette: The Lost Hero,” directed by the academy award nominated, Oren Jacoby. Additionally, Armstead served as an historical consultant on the project. The Spook™ project is still the most complete record of the Historical figure, James Armistead Lafayette. James Armistead Lafayette was a double agent spy for George Washington and his intelligence reports led to the end the American Revolution.


Commissioned work from Armstead’s current series Farther Land include site-specific installations at: Olana State Historic Site, Heresy • Hearsay, for an iteration of the award-winning exhibition Groundswell in 2014; Socrates Sculpture Park, Master Work: Astoria Houses in the Emerging Artist Fellowship exhibition in 2015The Project Room, BRIC House, Brooklyn, NY (2018); andWashington 20/20/20 at the George Washington Equestrian Monument in Union Square Park, New York, NY, Presented by NYC Art in the Parks Program (2018).Future Farther Landseries commissions are planned for: The Historic Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn NY in 2020 and Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Sitein Newburgh, NY, Presented by Strong Room Inc (2021).


Armstead tirelessly works to explore difficult terrain, new histories, complex identities and nuanced subjects with art. His work seeks to create beauty out of the connection to and honoring of the invisible and forgotten in American Culture.


CURRICULUM VITAE  ::  kenseth armstead



2005 New York University, Tandon School of Engineering, Integrated Digital Media (MS)

1991 Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program

1990 Corcoran College of Art and Design (BFA)

1989 Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture


solo exhibitions (* catalog available upon request)

2019 Boulevard of African Monarchs, 116th St. & Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd, Presented by NYC DOT ART & the Marcus Garvey Park Alliance

2018 Washington 20/20/20, Union Square, New York, NY, Presented by NYC Parks, Art in the Parks

2018 Master Work: Slaves of New York 1776, Project Room, BRIC House, Brooklyn, NY

2013 INFERNO, Churner and Churner, New York, NY*

2011 Spook™: INVOCATION, LMAKprojects, New York, NY*

2009 Spook™: The Negro Revolution 1776 - 1781: A Screening, Eyebeam Art + Technology Center, New York, NY

2006 MEMORIA:  invisible_cities (from trebesice), FUTURA centre for contemporary art, Prague, Czech Republic*



2019 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship

2018 Open Sessions 2018-2020, Drawing Center

2017 BRIC ArtFP, Inaugural Art Commission, BRIC

2016 Artist in Residence, Yaddo (Louise Bourgeois Endowed Residency for a Sculptor)

2015 Artist in Residence, Socrates Sculpture Park, Emerging Artist Fellowship

2013 Artist in Residence, Brooklyn Museum, Library and Archive

2012 Artist in Residence, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Swing Space, Governors Island

2010 Artist in Residence, Gallery Aferro

2009 Artist in Residence, Eyebeam Center for Art + Technology

2008 Film / Media Grant, Creative Capital Foundation

2008 Digital Matrix Commission, Longwood Arts Project / Bronx Council on the Arts

2007 Individual Artist Grant, Film & Media / New Technical Production, NYSCA

2006 Artist in Residence, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace

2006 Artist in Residence, Harvestworks

2006 Artist in Residence, Trebesice Castle, Trebesice, Czech Republic

2005 Excellence in Integrated Digital Media Award (Full-tuition Scholarship,) NYU / Polytechnic Institute

2003 Woodstock Artist in Residence, Center for Photography at Woodstock

2003 Artist in the Marketplace, Bronx Museum of the Arts

2002 Viewing Program, The Drawing Center

2000 Sculpture Purchase Prize Award, African American Museum

1999 Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant

1997 Funded Artist in Residence, Sculpture Space, Inc

1996 NYFA Artist Fellowship

1996 U.S. Representative of Arts and Technology, Global Youth Exchange Grant, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan

1989 David C. Driskell Fellowship, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture


exhibition selections (* catalog available upon request)

2019 Opens Sessions 2018-2020: What’s Love Got to Do with It, Drawing Center, New York, NY*

2018 Opens Sessions 12: (a… is altered), Drawing Center Lab, New York, NY

2018 Vantage Points: History and Politics in the American Landscape, Permanent Collection, Newark Museum, Newark, NJ

2017 NutureArt Annual Benefit Auction, Brooklyn, NY

2016 American Histories, Pi Art, London, UK

2016 Modern Heroics, 75 years of African American Expressionism, Newark Museum, Newark, NJ*

2016 Artist Response / Performance at the Newark Museum (collaboration with Gallery Aferro’s residency program)

2015 Emerging Artist Fellowship Exhibition, Socrates Sculpture Park, Queens, NY 

2014 Groundswell, Olana State Historic Site, Hudson, NY

2013 Peace. Love. Insurgency., Furthermore Gallery, Washington, DC

2012 Bronx Museum of the Arts, 40th Anniversary Gala & Art Auction, Three Sixty, New York, NY

2011 Children's Museum of the Arts, Art Auction 2011, CMA, New York, NY

2011 ISSUE Project Room Benefit Art Auction 2011, Industria Superstudio, New York, NY

2011 WHITNEY Art Party Silent Auction, a benefit for the Whitney Independent Study Program, NY, NY

2011 Personal Effects, Gallery Aferro, Newark, NJ

2011 Photo Finish, Islip Museum, East Islip, NY

2011 Apocrypha, Ironworks Gallery, Orange, NJ

2010 Lafayette: Lost Hero, documentary feature film, directed by Oren Jacoby,

PBS Broadcast (includes licensed Spook™ footage on James Armistead Lafayette & story ideas)

2010 WHITNEY Art Party Silent Auction, a benefit for the Whitney ISP, New York, NY

2010 BAMart Sixth Annual Silent Auction, BAM & Bergdorf Goodman, Brooklyn & New York, NY

2010 A Communist Gala, Cuchifritos Gallery, New York, NY

2009 Art Gallery, Siggraph Asia 2009, Yokohama, Japan*

2009 Vector Issue 2, Max Protetch Gallery, New York, NY (Artist writings selected, published and exhibited by Peter Gregorio)*

2009 WHITNEY Art Party Silent Auction, a benefit for the Whitney ISP, New York, NY

2009 Spook™ Experiment Drawings, Light Box Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

2009 Open Studios for Artists In Residence, Eyebeam Art + Technology Center, New York, NY

2008 Evolving Stories, Survival, Resistance & Gentrification: Digital Matrix Commissions, Longwood Arts Project, Bronx, NY

2008 Unnamable Name, Tompkins County Library, Copenhagen, Denmark

2008 WHITNEY Art Party Silent Auction, a benefit for the Whitney ISP, New York, NY

2008 Unnamable Name, Tompkins County Library, Ithaca, NY*

2007 Late Empire, Roebling Hall, New York, NY

2007 WHITNEY Art Party Silent Auction, a benefit for the Whitney ISP, New York, NY

2007 The Downtown Dinner Silent Auction, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, New York, NY

2006 Open Studio Trebesice Castle, Trebesice, Czech Republic

2006 CinemaScope:  Perpetual Art Machine, (Curated by Lee Wells,) Scope Art Fair, NY*

2006 Made in Woodstock III, Center for Photography at Woodstock, NY

2005 MULTIPLEX, The Soap Factory, Minneapolis, MN

2005 BROOKLinVIDEO, FUTURA centre for contemporary art, Prague, Czech Republic

2005 Arco International Art fair: Video Archive, Gigantic Artspace, Madrid, Spain

2004 20th Gala Ball Auction, African American Museum, Dallas, TX

2004 F|r|a|m|e analysis of movement, Center for Photography at Woodstock, NY

2004 Open House: Working in Brooklyn, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY*

2004 Tactical Action, Gigantic Artspace, New York, NY*

2004 Hope:  War Child Auction, Christie’s, London, England*

2003 AIM 23, Bronx Museum of the Arts, Bronx, NY *

2003 Veni Vidi Video, Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY

2001 300 Years of African American Art, African American Museum (Included by curator Phillip Collins,) Dallas, TX

2000 Biennial: 19th Carroll Harris Simms, National Black Art Competition and Exhibition, African American Museum, Dallas, TX


collaborative exhibition selections (as a member of the four-person collaborative art band X-Prz)



1995 No sell out... i wnt 2 b th ultimate commodity/machine (Malcolm X Part II,) Spirit Square, Charlotte, NC *

1994 Video installations VideoFest 1994, (Podewil) East Berlin, Germany *

1993 Dn't worry bout th gvrmnt, Decordova Museum, Lincoln, MA

1993 Jst bcz ur paranoid dn’t thnk thyr nt aftr u (Malcolm X Part 1,) Alternative Museum, New York, NY *

Exhibition traveled to:  Anderson Gallery, Richmond, VA, Spaces, Cleveland, OH, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, IL, National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis, TN



2002 Politics of resistance and musical cultures, Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Spain

2001 Race in Digital Space, MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, MA

Exhibition traveled to:  Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY

2001 Take Two: Contemporary Work by 13 International Artists, Ottawa Art Gallery, Ottawa, ON, Canada

2000 Sounding Snow,Centre Pour L'Image Contemporaine, Geneva, Switzerland

1999 Frames of Reference:  Reflections on Media, Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY

1997 Translocations, Photographers Gallery, London, England *

1996 No Doubt: African-American Art of the 90s, Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, CT *

1994 Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, NY, NY *

Exhibition traveled to:  Armand Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA

1994 West Publishing Art and the Law Exhibition, West Publishing Company, Seattle, WA *

Exhibition traveled to:  Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, LA, Art Institute, Canton, OH, Gallery of Contemporary Art, Colorado Springs, CO, Tyler Art Gallery, Oswego, NY

1993 Malcolm X: On the Subject, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA