Her grandfather, California Rep. William Kent, helped author legislation to create the national park system. He helped create Muir Woods as a national monument by donating the land to the federal government.
Ms. Kent started painting and drawing seriously in the mid-1950s after getting a bachelor's degree in English at Harvard University.
When color copiers appeared in the '70s, she lugged a 1,000-pound Xerox machine to the top floor of her Noe Valley Victorian and began painting on fabric and T-shirts and using the color copier to create prints of poppies, lace, shells, bones and eggs.
Throughout the '80s, she collaborated with early Silicon Valley tech companies to influence and test-drive their new design tools, such as Apple's graphic tablets and Vectronic's Koala Pad.
She taught herself to program in BASIC computer code on her first Apple IIe and printed pictures in dot matrix that she transformed into Cibachrome prints. The large pixels of her prints reminded her of stitches, so Ms. Kent started knitting fractals, Koch curves, Pascal's triangles and other mathematical images into body jewelry using electro-luminescent wire, which surrounds the wearer with light.
"My mom did things other artists simply didn't do," said her son, James Schermerhorn IV. "She'd look at something and see beyond what its use was for, like cracking eggs on a color Xerox machine and moving the yolks around with her fingers to create a 6-by-8 wall picture she called the 'Egg Murder Series.' "
Her work was exhibited widely, including at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Exploratorium, the University of London, the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose and the Burning Man art festival in the Nevada desert.
Ms. Kent once said of her work: "Artists bend technology beyond ways it's intended to create art, and when the technology breaks in the process, it also improves the next version of that tool."
Ms. Kent studied and painted at the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute) under Ralph DuCasse, Elmer Bischoff, Nathan Oliveira, Frank Lobdell and Bruce McGaw.
by Eleanor Kent (U.S.A.)
July 5, 2007
Artists make things and they want everyone in other times and places to see their creations.
Because artists want to connect with people of like mind and to share ideas freely without the complicated requirements of most galleries and museums, many have sent their art to each other through the mails. Artists' stamps, postcards, envelopes, leaflets, and posters have surged around the world internationally, through the postal systems of every country.
The actual art objects of this network of people are variously called Mail Art, Correspondence Art, Stamp Art, Postcard Art, and more. Faxes, computers and the Internet add to the ways artists connect, as postal fees rise and carriers proliferate. The movement, which began in the early 20th century with Dadaists and Futurists, continues today and is still evolving. Anyone can join in, or quit.
This exhibit is titled "Multiplicity/Multiplicidad," in honor of the multiple ways artists make art and send it around the world. A multiplicity of ideas is freely expressed here. There are political comments; homage to people living, dead or imaginary; parodies of commercial stamps and official documents; commemorations or condemnations of world events and people; celebrations of ideals; and small, beautiful pieces of art. There are postage stamps invented for entire imaginary countries with cancellation stamps to match. There are parodies of pompous people, criticisms of government policies, outcries against discrimination or torture. All these are connected through the postal systems of the world that deliver the art to the multitudes of people waiting to receive it.
Vortice Argentina, a Mail Art Collective and Museum in Buenos Aires, and SomArts Gallery have co-sponsored this exhibit that celebrates the generous concept of Mail Art. Fernando Garcia Delgado and Juan Carlos Romero of Argentina and Eleanor Kent of San Francisco have invited four other artists to join them in displaying works from their distinguished archives: two from Canada, Anna Banana and Jas W Felter, and two from the SF Bay Area, John Held, Jr. and Patricia Tavenner.
In these six archives established since the 1970's you will find works with myriad ideas to provoke thought. There are multiple means of production: offset lithography, xerox, rubber stamps, silkscreen, drawing, photographic processes, computer printouts and more. When you visit again, bring a magnifying glass to help you see small details in these miniature artistries. Join the network.
Eleanor Kent, 1992. "Fractal Post" -Knitted fractals- printed from photographs at Anna Banana