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Kenneth William Bass passed away on January 22, 2022 in Salisbury, North Carolina. He was 62 years old. He grew up in High Point, NC, the son of William C. and Carolyn A. Bass, who both pre-deceased him. Kenn attended UNC Greensboro where he studied biology before he transferred to the art department. He went on to complete a Master’s Degree in Sculpture at Penn State University. After graduation, he moved to Pittsburgh, PA where he started his professional art practice while teaching and writing art criticism for art circles and publications. After some time, Kenn moved to New York City and continued making art while working a variety of jobs including teaching Iraq war Veterans computer skills at LaGuardia Community College. He was active in the Williamsburg Art scene of the 1990s- 2000s, and was represented by the gallery, Roebling Hall. Kenn also exhibited his work in Manhattan at White Columns and was part of a group show called Brookworld, which took place in a condemned building where viewers had to sign a waiver to enter. In 1999, he showed at Mercer Union Art Centre in Toronto, Canada.
Always with dark humor and keen intelligence, Kenn’s work was both conceptual and funny. He drew on his upbringing in NC and his love of science to inform his work. One early piece was made of handmade fishing flies, their wings constructed of personal dating ads from the Village Voice. The flies were hung on the wall while a tape recording of Kenn whistling the theme song from the Andy Griffith Show played in the gallery. He often included live insects in his sculptures and also captured animal behavior on video which he deployed in large scale installations. He is one of 4 artists included in the book “Animal” by Canadian curator Corinna Ghaznavi. In 2013, Kenn spent the month of January in Iceland collecting images of the landscape for what would be his last show in Brooklyn at Parkers Box.
In 2017, Kenn returned to NC to teach art history, photography and video at Rowan Cabarrus Community College. He loved travel, photography and videography and really enjoyed his teaching role, however the program was shut down after the Spring 2020 semester due to the pandemic. He was very creative and witty, and shared a great passion for film with his son Aidan.
He is survived by his son, Aidan Moss Bass of New York, his sister and brother-in-law Debbie and Mike Everleigh of Durham ,NC, and his niece Caroline. He leaves behind both extended family in NC and many friends in Brooklyn, who will miss him too.
The family is being assisted by Carolina Cremation of Salisbury. At this time there is no service planned. Please feel free to share condolences or favorite memories about Kenn on the obituary website.
Paula Atkinson says
It’s been over 40 years since I have seen Ken. We spent many Sundays at church together, and I have thought about him a lot in the last several years.
Ken was way too young, and my heart goes out to all of his family and friends.
Angie Michaud says
Debbie, I am so sorry for your loss. Please know you are in my thoughts and prayers.
Angie Sanniota Michaud
Michael Shortt says
Always sad to learn another childhood friend has passed away.
Ken ( T.W. Andrews, Class of 77) and I were tight in our Jr. High years, to list the shenanigans we got into might reopen official investigations.
Chances are if you saw a large ( car sized ) cardboard ship sailing on Oak Hollow Lake suddenly get bombarded by flaming tennis balls from homemade tennis ball can mortars, it may have been us.
If you knew where CC Cove was parrallel to Lakecrest Drive behind Wellingford Drive, it’s because we trusted you and you helped “borrow” lumber from area construction homesites for the clubhouse.
He was my first sleepover guest and I think I was his, we made 8mm movies and told amazing stories.
High School came and we drifted a little, music ruled his life, cars mine.
We spoke a year ago and caught up on our adventures, he was teaching again.
Goodbye my friend, may your final refrain be played loud.
Susan Dockery says
I am completely devastated by this news. Kenn has always been one of my dearest friends, even though great distances separated us most of our adult lives. I loved him and his family so very very much!!!!!!! My heart is with his son, Aiden, and his precious sister Debbie, and all of the rest of his family. My heart is shattered knowing I will never see him, or hear his sweet voice again. Oh Kenn, how I loved you!!!!!!!
Jeff Howard says
May God bless Kenn’s family and provide them the strength and courage to get through this time of grief. Kenn was a good friend when we were young. We both played trumpet in the band so I spent many years with him. Also remember he carried the Greensboro newspaper on the same route I carried the High Point paper.
I know my childhood friend is now with our Lord and we will all see him again one day.
Corinna Ghaznavi says
I am heartbroken to hear of Kenn’s death. He was an immensely gifted artist with a keen insight into animals, the natural world and natural phenomena. He was able to translate complex ideas into visual language, and was forever researching and pursuing new investigations. In addition to working together several times over the twenty years that we knew each other, Kenn was also a close and supportive friend. My thoughts are with his family, especially is son Aidan during this difficult time.
Shannon Boger says
Kenn was one of my instructors at rccc who later became a good friend. He always encouraged me to follow my curiosity, and some pretty interesting things always came of it. I’m so sorry to hear of his passing. He will definitely be missed. I’m so sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
Susan Canning says
My condolences to Kenn’s family and especially to his son Aidan. I initially knew Kenn at UNC-G where he was my advisee and later in New York we remained in touch as friends and colleagues. Kenn of brilliant mind and sharp wit, made perceptive, provocative, and thoughtful art that kept one engaged both conceptually and physically, leading to new avenues and further exploration especially in the juncture between science and process. His cross-disciplinary approach encompassing film, video, installation and sculptural objects engaged with cutting edge art theory and current concerns related to anthropology, entomology, nature and environmental destruction. Kenn’s writing reflected his critical mind and take no prisoners approach that both challenged and kept one thinking. I am sure he was also an excellent teacher who would encourage students to go as far as they could go with their artwork and ideas. He also had a sly sense of humor and a great laugh. Rest in Peace Kenn, you will be missed.
Terry R Duncan says
I woke up to see this and was simply devastated. I first met Kenn in band at Andrews. He teased me and picked on me but also taught me about what it meant to be a Red Raider band member. Never at a loss for words or jokes he truly cared about his bandmates and his friends.
My heart breaks for his son and Debbie. Know that your family will be in my heart and prayers during this time.
Alun Williams says
Very hard to believe and accept that you’re no longer with us, Dear Kenn. I’ll very much miss the great conversations as well as regretting the projects that never happened. Your humor and great ideas will have the angels laughing and dancing.
Jonathan Hoffman says
I am so sorry to hear of Kenn’s passing. I was his immediate supervisor here at RCCC and I also considered him a friend. We had many good conversations about art and politics during his time here. He was bright, articulate, immensely talented, and a good and decent human being. I know he cared deeply about his students and he loved to engage with them, many of them will carry his lessons with them for their entire lives.
Debbie Everleigh says
From Kenn’s sister Debbie: Thank you to everyone who has shared their condolences, sentiments, stories, and great memories about Kenn here. Your sweet comments are a true blessing to our family during this sad time. I am grateful that each of you had a chance to know Kenn and appreciate you sharing your thoughts. He will be dearly missed.
Sheila Moss says
I met Kenn in February, 1996. Almost immediately, we understood each other’s creative intentions. We explored similar ideas in very different ways, and we created a seamless dialogue that became our life together. He was so easy to talk to. Articulate, funny, vulnerable, open-minded. We lived and worked together in the South 11th Street loft for 5 years before we had our son and got married. Kenn was a loving father even though he doubted himself in the role. He turned fear into love and had an intuitive way to simply be with Aidan when he was blue or upset. His comfort for Aidan was quiet and unconditional, and frequently led to a spontaneous viewing of a Marx Brothers movie regardless of the hour.
Working together in the loft was one of the happiest periods of my life. I am forever grateful to Kenn for his unwavering belief in me as an artist.
Extremely well-read, from theory to poetry to politics, Kenn could reference and share his unique perspective freely. And sometimes, he’d combine all that with his zany, conceptual, performative edge. I still laugh out loud when I think of his rendition of Ross Perot singing his policy platforms to Rod Stewart’s, “The First Cut is the Deepest…..”
Baby I know.
Rest In Peace.
Madonna Moss says
Kenn was part of our family for over 20 years. We are so saddened by his passing. I will remember how much Kenn loved to connect with people through deep conservation. I always admired his intellect and intention. Please accept our sincere condolences, Debbie, Mike, and Aidan.
Rita Moss says
We first met Kenn in that Brooklyn loft that our daughter , Sheila referenced. We understood at once the deep affection and artistic commonality between them . Kenn was irreverent, brilliant and funny and how he loved Glenn Gould.
When visiting us in Montclair, he loved nothing better than exploring the nooks and crannies of South Mountain Reservation with his camera. He loved the natural world.
Our family is diminished with Kenn’s loss but fortunately, we have our wonderful Aidan, a priceless memento.
Tamara Schlesinger says
I met Kenn when our children were friends at the same school. Often Sheila would invite us over and cook meals for us while the children played. I was always fascinated with how Kenn and Sheila transformed their spaces with artists eyes and nurturing for their outdoor spaces in Brooklyn. I remember one particular evening when Kenn showed me a project me was working on, it was a table in which you could watch moths hatching. I had not seen his art before and as he also seemed intellectual, I was surprised to see such a delicate and tender eye. I could see that he enjoyed creating his art. Kenn was also fun to talk to. I send my heart felt condolences to Sheila and Aidan.
Ellen Quish says
I had the good fortune of meeting Kenn when our sons became fast friends in pre-school in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. He helped make some of our family’s fondest early memories. Brilliant in many ways, he was always immersed in a creative project, from video to blogging. He loved his son, Aidan, deeply and enjoyed sharing his vast knowledge of art and science with him. I am saddened by his passing and send his son Aidan, my love and sympathy.
Alexandra Limpert says
Kenn appeared in my back yard shortly after I moved from gentrifying Williamburg several years ago. As it turned out we had lived there simultaneously but had never met, and as artists we shared very different stories of the same place. By chance I saw his work at Roebling Hall, and I remember the subtle presence of his sculptural installations. One day during summer in the garden, Kenn told me to watch for the fireflies that appeared at the same time every evening, so I did and still do.
So sorry for your loss Sheila, Aidan, family and friends.
Ellen Quish says
I met Kenn through our sons, who became fast friends in pre-school. He was part of some of our family’s fondest early memories. Brilliant in many ways, he was always happy to talk about one of his creative projects, from video to blogging. He loved his son Aidan deeply and enjoyed sharing his vast knowledge art and science with him, whenever he had the chance. Sending love and condolences to Aidan and Sheila.
Deborah Moss Marris says
I remember Kenn as gifted, intelligent, hilarious, and kind. He was easy to talk with about any subject whether you were a child of seven or a flawed adult. We would often be laughing no matter how serious the theme.
Kenn was exceptionally patient and fun with my children. their visits to the loft, with installed swing and wheelchair were experienced while industrial fans created a wind tunnel. This was a particular draw.
“My brother from another mother” you were an original.
Ann Teague says
Kenn was my nephew, the son of my middle sister, Carolyn. I was really excited when Kenn moved to the South, but deep down, I always knew he missed the North and would one day try to find his way back. I would often call Kenn in Salisbury just to keep up and see what he was up to. Kenn would share with me all the things he loved about his teaching in Rowan County, and he so much enjoyed his photography class. I will miss you Kenn. Rest in peace.