Kevin Jerome Everson

Kevin Jerome Everson, Still from Emergency Needs, 2007.

About the Artist

Born 1965 in Mansfield, Ohio; lives in Charlottesville, Virginia

In 1997, filmmaker Kevin Jerome Everson made a 16-millimeter, black-and-white short about a correctional o≈cer discussing his work (Eleven Eighty- Two). In 2007, he made another black-and-white short, this time on high-definition video, about the perilous beauty of light as narrated by a Pandorus Sphinx moth (Nectar, in collaboration with William Wylie). Over the ten years separating these two disparate projects, Everson has created numerous shorts and features, using both film and video, alternating color and black and white, on a bewildering variety of topics: picnics, poems, Renaissance painters, African-American drag racers, the chemistry of busing, cleaning collard greens, The Wizard of Oz, immigration, luck, his hometown of Charlottesville, Pompeii, eighteenth-century beekeepers, 1971 black beauty pageants, factory workers, bank tellers, taxi drivers, and a founding member of the legendary Motown group The Temptations. Despite this wild eclecticism, Everson professes an overarching motivation: “My artworks and films are about responding to daily materials, conditions, tasks, and/or gestures of people of African descent.” Frequently basing a work on archival or found footage, Everson repositions these materials “through a variety of mediums such as photography, film, sculpture, artist books, and paintings. The results usually have a formal reference to art history and resemble objects or images seen in working-class culture.”

The material for Emergency Needs (2007) derives from a news conference held by the first African- American mayor of a large city, Carl B. Stokes of Cleveland, in response to a violent outbreak of civil unrest in the summer of 1968. Known as the Glenville Shootout after the African-American working-class neighborhood where the incident took place, the crisis began the night of July 23 when a firefight broke out between the Cleveland police and a radical black nationalist group under surveillance, leaving seven dead and many more wounded. Riots and looting ensued. Stokes promptly called in the National Guard to restore order, and the following day ordered all white o≈cers out of Glenville, to be replaced by African- American ones. Everson presents archival footage from the Stokes press conference alongside a reenactment performed by a woman, cutting between the two or arranging them in split screen. Inspired by Robert Rauschenberg’s “identical” 1957 paintings Factum I and Factum II, where the unity of content inspires reflection on the diΩerence of technique, Emergency Needs invites close consideration of gesture and performance at the Stokes press conference. By means of this duplication, and the imposition of new rhythmic patterns, Everson enlivens a historical document, resurrecting the conditions, tasks, and gestures of a vital moment in time by repositioning them in the present. NATHAN LEE

Kevin Jerome Everson, Still from Emergency Needs, 2007. 16 mm film, color, sound; 7 min. Collection of the artist