Brenda Ann Kenneally is a mother, multi platform documentary worker, Guggenheim Fellow, and retired carnival snake charmer, whose lived experiences of poverty and incarceration in her youth, have been the driving force behind her documentary mission. Over the past thirty years Kenneally’s long-form, immersive collaborations with families who struggle to survive where social, economic, and emotional marginalization intersect with the American Criminal Legal System have produced visceral portraits of the landscape of intergenerational inequity and trauma navigated by the most vulnerable among us.
Kenneally’s books “Money Power Respect: Pictures of My Neighborhood” (Chanel Photographics, 2004) and “Upstate Girls: Unraveling Collar City” (Regan Arts, 2018) covered decades in the lives of children in each of these neighborhoods where Kenneally and her son lived. The shared experiences of life on these blocks became the foundation for an array of participatory public art projects with those communities.
In 2017, Kenneally founded A Little Creative Class Inc., a 501c3 with a vision to support young people from disadvantaged neighborhoods on their journey to discover artistic voice and authentic self. The culmination of Kenneally’s commitments came in the summer of 2021. Kenneally and a contingent of The Upstate Girls’ extended documentary family embarked on an awe-inspiring cross-country road trip to the American West. “If my own work doesn’t devastate me into action, then I have no business doing it,” she said. “It became clear as second and third generations came of age that I had to change what the last picture in our historic time together could be.”