Power Within
Artist Dale Kennington

By Amanda Smith • Photography by Brian W. McDonald and contributed

Dale Kennington has a superpower. She sees things others do not. No, she is not on another metaphysical plane; she is simply a keen observer capable of seeing the extraordinary within the ordinary. It is the mundane that captivates her: the curve of an extension cord as it unfurls against the backdrop of a concrete floor, paper boats floating across a water-filled plaza or the light illuminating the edge of a waitress’s white apron.

Like most superheroes, Kennington’s powers are carefully concealed. She is a trim, genteel woman with soft, white hair and cultured refinement. She is of that rare breed of Southern woman, capable of charming guests at a cocktail party while quelling the bad behavior of fractious children with a glance and lift of a perfectly manicured eyebrow. She is the epitome of propriety; yet she is a bit of a voyeur, quietly observing all that is around her. Her hidden power is capturing the everyday, gently focusing attention on it, and elevating it into a remarkable piece of art.

Kennington may have been born with this power, but it did not reveal itself until she was grown. She says she was not especially artistic as a child growing up in Dothan, Alabama. She chose art because it was an acceptable major for women in the early ’50s. She was not particularly interested in pursuing it as a career. Her higher education began at Huntingdon College, but she finished at the University of Alabama, where she earned an art degree and acquired a husband, Don.

Kennington accompanied Don to Auburn, so he could complete vet school. She found her way into a staff position in Auburn’s art department teaching freehand and figure drawing. Not, she says modestly, because of any great talent, but because she was one of the few women with an art degree at the time. After Don graduated, the couple moved to Dothan and Kennington focused her attention on raising their three children.

      She did not consider getting back into art until she began searching for someone to paint a portrait of ... [subscribe to read full article and see more photos]