Kenya Brown Feeser thinks of plaques and statues like lawns. If you care for and tend them, people will show them respect. If you don’t—well, you might end up with a lawn full of trash.
Kenya has made a career combining her love of history with a unique artistic and scientific skillset restoring artifacts like paintings, statues, and just about anything old you can think of.
Her career has taken her as far as Italy and as close as Maryland, but for the last seven years she’s called York home.
Through her business, Urban Renaissance Restoration, she’s undertaken several York-specific items. A project she’d love to work on: the bronze plaques at the York Fairgrounds.
“There are some worthy mentionings on those plaques,” she says.
Finding her people
Kenya first made inroads with the historically minded York community during a First Friday event.
She isn’t one to brag about her skills, but her husband is. He praised her work while visiting the Plow Tavern, and not long after she became the resident conservationist for the York County History Center.
It was a good fit.
“I’m one of those people who just loves the past,” she says. “I’m fine with the future, but I love how we did the Victorian period.”
While Kenya’s business is part time, she likes it that way.
It allows her the flexibility to volunteer with the York County History Center gobbling up all the historical knowledge she can on the strategic planning committee and as a board member.
A tactile process
The first week or two of any project, she says, is just trying to figure out what exactly is going on with an object and game-planning how to proceed.
Next comes the fun part: rebuilding a section of plaster layer by layer, delicately painting to restore the artist’s original vision.
“That’s probably the most gratifying part of the job, when you get to that phase,” she says.
Showing the finished product to a client, though, might be a close second.
“I can’t quite explain that feeling, but it feels like I’ve done my part in maintaining that history,” she says, “a part of history that may have been forgotten or broken.”