photo by Trish McGee

Kyle Hackett (b. Still Pond, MD) earned his MFA from the LeRoy E. Hoffberger School of Painting at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and his BFA in Fine Arts as a McNair Scholar from the University of Delaware. Hackett has received numerous honors and awards, including the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities Artist Fellowship and Grant, the Civil Society Institute Fellowship at Vermont Studio Center Residency, The Ruth Katzman Scholarship at The League Residency in New York, Best in Show at the 2014 Bethesda Painting Awards Exhibition. He was a semifinalist in the 2016 and 2019 BP Portrait Award (London), honorable mention in the 2019 Art Olympia International Open Art Competition (Tokyo), and a finalist in the 2020 Prisma Art Prize (Rome) and the Alexander Rutsch Award for Painting in 2021, and selected for the ArtFields Competition in 2022 and 2023.

Hackett's work has been featured in publications such as New American Paintings, the Washington Post, Aesthetica Magazine (UK) and distinguished as "Ten Memorable Paintings of 2014" in the Huffington Post. Hackett received A Mayoral Salute from the City of Baltimore for his solo exhibition and artist talk "Rate of Contingency" at Baltimore City Hall. Recent exhibitions include The Prisma Art Prize (Rome, Italy), Return to Self & The Constructed Image (Staunton, VA), and Circular Narratives (Birmingham, AL). Hackett’s work is represented by Goya Contemporary Gallery (Baltimore, MD) and notably collected by Ethan Cohen Gallery (New York), Wangechi Mutu Studio, University Museums at the University of Delaware, University of Maryland, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, Capital One Lounge permanent collection at the Washington Dulles International Airport, the Trawick Foundation and more.

My paintings explore race, class, and social standing through approaches to self-representation and the constructed image. Inspired by nineteenth-and twentieth-century portraiture and precarious modes of depiction, I deconstruct ideas of secure identity and fixed-painting techniques through subtexts of the staged, self-aware portrait. Referencing contraptions, braces, or postures from early photography that might objectify and hold a sitter in place, I relate image-making, inflection, and fixedness to concepts of double consciousness.

A connected body of work involves vanitas still life paintings created from discarded self-portrait reference photographs. Quickly compressed, twisted, fixed, bound, doubled, and hung, the discarded images take on new forms. Meanwhile, the slower process of making each painting becomes a living record and reflection on the initial need to discard the reference. I explore format, figure-ground relations, and simultaneous spaces. Within this process, my work combines strategies of expanded portraiture and still-life with the power dynamic and nature of the picture plane. 

Often using indirect glazing approaches to layer an image, I consider how content exists in-between spaces, subjects, and beneath painted surfaces. How can slowing down views challenge understood relationships between the image, surface, and material? At the same time, how can this process reveal insights into the psychological state of the painter and the painting? By emphasizing conflicts between inner and outer, I hope to foster new realities and ways of being understood as not black or white, wealthy or poor, but human.