John Patrick McKenzie


The family of John Patrick McKenzie is of Filipino origin. They moved to the United States when John was only two years. At six, he still did not speak, except a few words. When he entered elementary school, his teacher suggested an assessment, which revealed that John was autistic. He was then transferred to a school for disabled children. Today, he lives with his parents and two sisters in San Francisco.
While John took a while to learn to speak (he speaks in full sentences only since his adolescence), he likes to read the TV programs. For over fourteen years, he has attended a workshop for adults in difficulty, the Creativity Explored. Encouraged by the instructors from the center, he began drawing and writing on pieces of cardboard, plexiglass, salvaged window tiles, painted wooden boards and even a plastic mannequin. Sometimes he writes on the front and on the back, or perpendicularly to a first text, creating a grid in pencil or chalk. He lists abrupt phrases, often obscene and offensive words, sometimes organized around a central theme as the name of a brand, food, current events, celebrities.
McKenzie likes to categorize people according to the decades in which they were born. Those born in 1930 are called “beatniks”, in 1940’s “cold turkeys”, in 1950 “whipper snapper nerds”, in1960 “spring chickens” and finally in 1970 “fresh chicken” (post-1970 are “freshers”). McKenzie’s works often deal with difficult relationships between generations.

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