William Kent

A Yale-trained musician and composer, William Kent (1919-2012), began experimenting with sculpture, working in clay, plaster, stone, and wood. In 1963, he began carving into slate blackboards solely for the purpose of making prints, and on moving into a barn studio in Durham, CT, he continued this discipline until 1977, when he returned to carving wood sculptures in the round. From these giant slates, he produced, without the use of a press, elegant protest prints reflecting that period of upheaval. They are filled with daring and humor, compassion and originality. This exhibition presents Kent’s slate prints, carved slates and wood sculptures. The works are drawn from the holdings of the William Kent Charitable Foundation.

More about this exhibition

Supported in part through a gift from Raymond Learsy to underwrite exhibitions in The Lab.



Community Free Day (All Ages)
Saturday, October 13, 12:00-5:00 p.m.
Art Activity: 10:00 a.m.-Noon
Dig into art and history and explore the Museum all day at no charge including changing exhibitions and selections from the permanent collection. Enjoy family-friendly activities at the Museum’s MATT MOBILE – our rolling art cart.

This month: Mixed media printmaking activity in collaboration with Saved from Silences: William Kent. Create striking imagery on a hand-made background.


Portrait of the Artist, Self-Crucified: The Life and Work of William Kent
Presented by Matthew Spellberg, Junior Fellow, Harvard Society of Fellows.
Thursday, November 1
Reception: 5:30 p.m. / Presentation: 6:00 p.m.
FREE for Members & College Students / $10 General
William Kent was a sculptor and printmaker who created an entire universe for himself. Abandoning the New York art-world in the 1960s, he retreated to a barn in rural Connecticut, where he lived and worked in isolation for forty years. He collected abandoned and useless objects from flea-markets—plastic keychains, novelty clocks, shoe-horns, greeting cards, discarded toys—and used them as models for huge, sensuous works of art. He carved hundreds of monumental wood sculptures, complemented by thousands of brilliantly colored prints. Altogether the works form a philosophy, a mythology, and an entire world. This talk will discuss the techniques and aims of Kent’s art, and above all its three ambitions: to heal the rift between nature and human creation; to attack the hypocrisy of the wider world outside his barn; and to explore the idea of metamorphosis, as both a universal principle and a personal path for redemption.


Printmaking with Roxanne Faber Savage
Sunday, November 4, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
Pre-register by 10/31
$75 Members / $90 General
Back by popular demand! Using the work of William Kent as inspiration, learn to combine objects and images into a printed work in this workshop intensive. Roxanne will demonstrate how to create a powerful image using mono printing, transfers, and paints on a wall paper surface. Class size is limited.

Instructor: Roxanne Faber Savage is an award winning multidisciplinary artist with printmaking as her primary medium. Roxanne has just returned from a six-week intensive workshop MFA Art Practice and Summer Residency Program.