By Miya Williams
Alex McKenna is an artist. But he doesn’t just want to create art; he also wants to help foster the art community. McKenna dreams of owning and operating his own art gallery or art residency program. He said, “I hope to create an atmosphere where I am constantly surrounded by likeminded and creative individuals.”
McKenna was interested in art at a young age and describes himself as always having “a creative practice.” He likes to create geometric abstract work that appears three-dimensional but is on a two-dimensional surface. He explained, “I am colorblind so I use simple shapes to create forms.”
The Illinois native studied art education at Illinois State University and focused on painting and drawing. As an undergraduate, he frequently attended gallery openings and museum exhibitions. He stated, “As a practicing artist, I feel it is important to always be engaging with the art world.”
After college, McKenna interned at the de Young Fine Art Museum in San Francisco in the Museum Ambassador Program where he trained a group of high school students who then went on to teach elementary school students about art. He has also taught art courses at Lake Zurich High School and Hillcrest Elementary School, both located in suburbs of Chicago. After working at the museum and teaching, he discovered that he wanted to pursue a career that worked outside the traditional school system. “I realized I was interested in working more directly with the artwork and the artists,” he explained.
McKenna recently worked with the publications staff of EXPO Chicago, a major art exhibition that takes place at Navy Pier in Chicago each year. He shared, “This was a great way to see what artists and galleries in the contemporary art world were creating.”
During the MSLCE program, McKenna hopes to learn business skills he did not receive while in undergrad, such as knowledge about finance and marketing. He hopes to work in an art gallery or museum before opening his own modern contemporary gallery within 10 years. He said, “There is still much for me to learn, but I have experience working in the field and believe that this is a very achievable goal.”
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