Face-to-Face With David Kring

by Kate McMahan |

Inspired by his Kentucky upbringing and working-man sensibilities, the artist creates quirky, relatable ceramic and mixed-media works.

Kentucky artist David Kring has been kicking ass with his masterpieces for Kentucky for Kentucky since early 2012. You might recognize his distinctive style from popular items such as his Loretta Lynn mugs and the new Hunter S. Thompson-inspired mugs, which debut this Friday in the shop.

Kring’s own artistic inspiration is rooted in the years he spent working in his family’s outdoor and work-wear store, Mitchell’s Clothing Store, in Franklin, Kentucky. Spending time with the customers who frequented the shop-turned-gathering place and hearing the stories that these working men traded inspired him to create art that tells a story and, with his ceramic mugs and jugs, has an everyday practicality.

 

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Working from his Lexington studio, Kring seeks to incorporate that “little bit of rust, little bit of crackle, and little bit of age,” as he says, that captivated him about the store and its patrons into his art.

 

His jugs and mugs, in particular, reflect Kring’s stylized aesthetic: comfortable and utilitarian with a worn, vintage look and rich, earthy hues that instantly feel familiar.

 

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Kring often studies old ads, concert posters, album art, magazines and other materials for inspiration, especially for works involving the image of a famous Kentuckian like Loretta Lynn, Hunter S. Thompson or Col. Sanders. He also draws musical inspiration from the eras he evokes.

 

Kring’s distinct style of storytelling-through-pottery is also evident in his unique busts and sculptures. Each piece teems with personality and often conveys a complex emotional state or story.

 

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For example Kring drew inspiration from Flannery O’Connor’s short story “A Good Man is Hard to Find” to create a collection of male busts that, as Kring says, “deal with the duality of good and evil within a Southern narrative.”

 

“When I work on a figure, I like to think about an emotion — such as jealousy, stress, joy, or disgust — to help push the narrative forward,” he explains. “The figures often display disturbed and delusional personalities with the use of dark humor. This helps create layers in their story, and also mimics the layers of texture, color, and pattern I generate on their surface.”

 

See more of David Kring’s work on his website, and look for his Hunter S. Thompson mugs beginning at 10 a.m. Friday in the shop.

There are more barrels of bourbon than people in Kentucky.

Kentucky for Kentucky