Help a Black Artist Go to School

Hi, I’m Devin Kenny, an artist based in Brooklyn, NY.

Over the years, individually and sometimes collaboratively, I have done artwork and writing concerned with gentrification,

the US prison industrial complex,

subcultures and countercultures,

alternative histories of the Internet,

and the Black Atlantic.

My art practice includes music, sculpture, painting, videos, writing, photography, garments, performances,

and even software.

I have been accepted at Oxford University to begin a doctorate in Philosophy in Fine Art for the next 3 years. When I arrived, I moved into the dorm and began orientation for the facilities. I met some wonderful people pursuing all different fields: engineering, philosophy, fine art, biomedical research, AI and robotics, sociology, and more. About a week into it, I learned that what I thought was the final step of getting my student visa: receiving the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number, was actually just the beginning of a more complex process. I went on to try and figure out how to get my student visa application completed while there so that I wouldn’t have to leave the country and could register for classes, but I learned that was impossible, so I had to take the last money I had and fly back to New York. I have folks here in Brooklyn who are able to put me up while I go through the process, for which I am so grateful.

Meanwhile, the things I abruptly left in England are still in my dorm room, which I must pay for while not there. I will receive a scholarship for tuition and housing, but since I am not yet enrolled, I had to defer to the following term, beginning in January, meaning I have a surprise 892 GBP per month bill to pay for the time until then: about 3 months ($3180 USD).
I need your help!

Your support will go towards:

-the student visa application + supplemental fees
-the mandatory IHS surcharge for healthcare
-my flight back to start school / transportation to campus
-my dormitory rent which I’m currently using as storage for the 3 months I’m back home.
= $6934

I can't apply for emergency funding from the school (because I’m not officially enrolled– since I haven’t received the student visa yet) so I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place. But I was able to defer until next term which begins January 9th. I am hoping to have raised funds by the end of the year so I don’t go deeper into debt: maxed-out credit cards and negative bank balances have already been a part of my life since August. I also have been working odd jobs and applying for seasonal work to pay my bills while in NYC and to show love and appreciation to the generous chosen family who have thrown their lives into disarray to help me during my time of need.

The research I’m embarking on is a chance to better understand how cultures of the African Diaspora have influenced the Americas and the World, and how that has influenced digital society. I have engaged with the topic with projects that look at the connections between Houston’s Chopped and Screwed music and Monterrey's cumbias rebajadas, and the overlaps between jazz, beat poetry, and folk scenes in 20th century NYC. This current project grew from this performance essay which focused on Black/American culture before and after telecommunication technologies, looking at Juneteenth, quilt codes, spray can art, Black Twitter, fractals in architecture and hair braiding, Bamana sand divination, computing, and more.

Creativity is a big part of my life, and through it, I reflect on the things that happen in the world around me-- the things that have impacted me, and the lives of the people I love most. Through art, I share information in a compelling way. I deeply believe in art and the power of culture to help us understand ourselves, and connect with others. Artists have the ability to make all kinds of research findings accessible to wider audiences and to create new models and ways of thinking, encouraging folks to do the same. These are some of the reasons why I have dedicated my life to it.

Your support will be so deeply appreciated as it will allow me to pursue this work, learn more, and create art and content that I can share with the world: fostering conversations, emphasizing the aspect of care that underlies education and sharing information, and the vibrance of making.

There are challenges I face as a contemporary artist, and that's one of the realities I will use my brief but focused time in school to tackle. Your donation will be of huge help to me, and deeply appreciated! And even if you can’t donate, just sharing it with friends, and colleagues will be a great way to amplify the message and show support as well!

With immense thankfulness and appreciation,
Devin Kenny

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Devin Kenny 
Brooklyn, NY

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