Garry Neill Kennedy was born in St. Catherine’s Ontario in 1935. He graduated from the Ontario College of Art in 1960, and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Buffalo in 1963. In 1965 he received a Master of Fine Arts degree from Ohio University. Kennedy went on to teach in, and head, the fine art department of Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin.
In 1967, the Board of Directors of the then Nova Scotia College of Art embarked on a search for a new head for the College. Kennedy was hired as the first President of the College and embarked on a 23-year career, stepping down as President in 1990, as the top administrator at what soon became the top art college in Canada, and arguably, in North America.
Under Kennedy’s tenure, the NSCA was renamed the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and expanded rapidly in both its physical plant and its reputation. In 1968 Kennedy oversaw the construction of a six-story addition to the College’s Coburg Road facility. In 1969 NSCAD was given degree-granting status and the faculty was expanded considerably. Plans were drafted in 1970 to move the College downtown, a move that was completed in 1978. The occupancy of NSCAD in 19 historic buildings in downtown Halifax was the lynchpin that helped create Historic Properties, a prominent provincial landmark.
During this period, Garry Neill Kennedy continued to be active as an artist as well as an administrator and an educator. His exhibition career began in 1963, when he was included in an exhibition of young Canadian artist at the Commonwealth Gallery in London, England. He has been included in over twenty group exhibitions at such galleries and museums as: The Museum of Modern Art (New York), the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), Art Cologne (Cologne) and the Art Gallery of Contemporary Art (Vancouver). His solo exhibitions include such venues as: the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, the National Gallery of Canada, the 49th Parallel Gallery (New York), the Tasmanian School of Art Gallery (Hobart, Australia), Galeri II (Reykjavik, Iceland), Portikus (Frankfurt) and numerous others. His work is included in the public collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the National Gallery of Canada, the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Glenbow Museum, the Owens Art Gallery.
Garry Neill Kennedy has served on the boards of the Atlantic Association of Universities, the Council of University Presidents, the Steering Committee for the Nova Scotia Coalition on Arts and Culture, the Khyber Centre for the Arts, and numerous other committees and advisory councils. He has received numerous awards and honours, including the Portia White Award from the Province of Nova Scotia in 2000, the Order of Canada, 2003 and the Governor General’s Award for Visual and Media Arts, 2004.
To read an excerpt from Border Crossings on Garry Neill Kennedy's Superstar Shadow Project, please visit Boundary Breaker.