Kim MacConnel received his Bachelor of Arts degree and Master of Fine Arts degree from University of California, San Diego (1969, 1972) He has taught in the Visual Arts Department there in various capacities between 1976 and 1980, and permanently since 1987 until retirement in 2009. MacConnel is an influential artist in the Pattern and Decoration Movement of the 1970s. Working with design elements of color and composition, MacConnel has been influenced by Picasso, the Cubists, and the so-called “primitivists.” There is a deeper meaning, however, based in the materials he uses and cross-cultural interactions that he creates. Working with color and pattern, he draws inspiration from such wide-ranging and multicultural resources as the textile arts of numerous world regions, found graphic images, and Henri Matisse.
His earlier works were informed by his travels; “A lot of my work was inspired by Near Eastern decorative textiles, non-Western interest,” MacConnel explained. It was a shift in emphasis that pulled in voices from other cultures. “Through the artist, there could now be a virtual conversation with someone from India or Africa or Mexico … that definitely affected me.” By contrast, his later work finds him engaging in abstraction. “Again this comes out of travel and other cultures and the art movement at that time,” he said. “However, my pieces are not straight-edge abstraction that one might find in abstract expressionism, they are just a little bit off. Lines are hand-drawn and the small imperfections are reflective of other cultural sources of expression,” said MacConnel.
His work has been exhibited in the Whitney Museum of American Art Biennial Exhibitions in 1975, 1977, 1979, 1981, and 1985; The Museum of Modern Art’s An International Survey of Recent Painting and Sculpture, 1984; The Venice Biennale, 1984; and inSite 1992, 1994. MacConnels’ work may be found in such collections as the National Gallery of Art, the Morton G. Neumann Family Collection, The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Albright-Knox Gallery, The Fabric Workshop and Museum, as well as the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. “What marks MacConnel as an original is his shameless embrace of decoration and the messiness with which he manifests his vision of a world run riot with dots, dashes and zigzags. His spirited assaults to highbrow sanctimony are loudly and liberally interspersed with sinuous lines, slapdash shapes and simplified renditions of bounty, beauty and leisure….”(David Pagel, Art in America, February 2004 via Quint Gallery).