Kenseth Armstead

Brooklyn, NY

Kenseth Armstead has created provocative multimedia installation art for three decades. His work has been included in pivotal explorations of history, American culture, ethnicity, and institution defining moments. Selected historic exhibitions which include his work are: Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary Art at the Whitney Museum of American Art; Frames of Reference: Reflections on Media at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Race in Digital Space at the MIT List Visual Arts Center; Veni Vidi Video at the Studio Museum in Harlem (their first video exhibition in 2003); Open House: Working in Brooklyn at the Brooklyn Museum; “Edited at EAI”: Video Interference at Electronic Arts Intermix (celebrating 45 years of their award winning collection); Modern Heroics, 75 years of African American Expressionism at the Newark Museum; and most recently, Washington 20/20/20 in Union Square Park, New York City.

Photo credit: Dread Scott


Kenseth Armstead is a visual artist who has created provocative multimedia installation art for three decades.

Artist Bio

Spook™ shares and celebrates the life of historical figure James Armistead Lafayette, a slave-turned-spy who provided intelligence to help end the American Revolution. After extensive historical research, the artist re-tells the story through a variety of contemporary media formats, including hand-drawn images, collage, performance-based work and HD video production. Armstead specifically focuses on three months in 1781, when James was successfully working as a double agent for America’s first Director of Central Intelligence, George Washington. Episodes include his first mission for Washington, under the command of the Marquis Lafayette, and James’s dangerous compact with the most feared British General, Lord Charles Cornwallis. This re-mixed take on the story of the American Revolution forces the viewer to examine whether all of our history has been told. James, a lost hero, is drawn in context, for the first time, as a fully realized character. The artist invites the viewer to join him in ambitiously inserting an African Founding Father into the pantheon of heroes traditionally celebrated on July 4th.

Award Year