Music and Art In Your Backyard

The Hip Hop Spirit Warrior

In a galaxy far far away...well, Oakland, CA, resides a creator whose work defies our two dimensional world; instead, transporting us into a quest of multi-dimensional propositions and cultural awakening!

Image Courtesy of Kenny Kong

Image Courtesy of Kenny Kong

How would you characterize your work and your pieces?

Lately, my work has been characterized by hip-hop spirit warriors, using funky kung-fu powers to transform themselves, their community, and their worlds. it's a parallel future primitive world filled with poetry and metaphor, where people use cultural expression like dance, music, and art as a means of empowerment.

What fuels your inspirations and what influences your work?

I've been a b-boy for almost 15 years now and the ability to express myself through dance and movement in a raw and wild way is something that I carry into my work. When you get down on the dance floor, just letting it all go, with the music pushing your body, and people vibing off each other, it's the greatest feeling. I'm not religious, but this is the closest I've felt to god.

Other than that, I look a lot at street culture for inspiration. I grew up in Oakland and San Francisco, and have been into hip-hop my entire life. The first song I fully memorized was 'the humpty dance' by Digital Underground. I was in 1st grade singing too $hort lyrics. Growing up, I realized there's tremendous heart and sincerity in the streets combined with a lot of violence and despair. This duality comes out in my work a lot.

I'm also interested in the philosophies of non-western cultures. Learning about Native American, Asian, and African philosophies is really powerful. To step out of the western culture and understand that there are different ways to look at how life can be lived, with a stronger understanding of how we are connected to each other, to nature, to ourselves really compels my work.

Where has been the most interesting place you’ve displayed your art? 

I made a wolf sculpture and displayed it in a Muni street car not too long ago. everybody was trying to take pictures all discretely. Meanwhile, I was taking pictures of them, taking pictures of it. I think public places are way cooler than any institution or gallery. 

IMAGE COURTESY OF KENNY KONG

How did you get into making art? How did it evolve from where you started to what you have now?

I got into it like most kids, just drawing my ass off. But when other kids started playing nintendo and football in the streets, I kept drawing. I still draw almost every day. 

As a career, I began making art for video games in 2008, mainly doing 3D figure art. It's been cool, but I got tired of it and went back to school to figure out what I really wanted to do. I thought I was tired of making video games, so I took a break and made sculptures and illustration work, until I realized that I still loved making video games. Now I'm making games again, but this time with my own ideas and messages.

Where do you see yourself and your art going? Where would you ultimately like to end up?

I think there's tremendous potential for games and interactive media to say something deep and touching. there are also so many stories still to tell. right now, games are made by mainly white men, so you're gonna see the ideas and cultural values of white men in these games, which, honestly, is really boring. I'm working on a few projects to push this a bit, trying to represent people of color, urban cultures, and new ideas. 

Website: The Art of Kenny Kong