Ian King

ian king is a multimedia artist, illustrator, designer, and community organizer based in northern new jersey. his work’s tender sensibilities stem from his fascination with all things antiquated or forgotten, and his concern for the erasing of history.

lately, this has meant working in an archival artmaking practice, where found objects and media combine with his illustrative stylings to tell stories about people whose stories never get to be told. from his lived experience as a transgender man to his encyclopedic knowledge of outsider artists who fell to the wayside, king fills in the blanks and presents visual information in a way that commands attention. his favorite materials include watercolor, ink, oils and acrylics, old photographs, crumpled sheet music, garbage, sound, and video.

raised in bergen county, king briefly moved to queens, ny and obtained a bfa in illustration from st. john’s university in may 2022. working as a mutual aid organizer while there – focusing on the issue of food insecurity with the radical love free store group – informed much of his work’s direction, upon seeing firsthand how much data and how many voices get suppressed by the larger institutions of society. his studio residency at gallery aferro in newark, nj marks the first of his career, a mere four months after graduating. he has exhibited multiple times at the yeh art gallery in queens, most recently as a part of the group show of yesterday for tomorrow, also in 2022.

this most-recent exhibition, featuring king’s project “funeral,” exemplifies his current creative philosophies and narrative subject matter. the multimedia installation memorializes the work and lives of singer-songwriters whose tragic downfalls led them to fade into obscurity in the public eye. a series of 24 distinct ink portraits, photographs, and ephemera grace the walls, and archival footage and music roll on a loop from the piece’s centerpiece memorial. the troubadours who thanklessly blazed trails for modern music are given a proper ceremony. this ceremonious quality makes his work feel that much more intimate, letting those who were once unknown embrace a moment of remembrance.