Crave

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Crave

A collage that was put together quickly a number of years ago. Sometimes it is fun to do things quickly to keep the creative juices flowing. 

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Pushing the (h)Edge

Gallery Review from Topics in Installation Art, 2011

Some artists discover their medium over a lifetime of work, others stumble into it unknowingly, and few fall in love at first sight. Kim Dickey knew she wanted to work with ceramics after finding it in sixth grade.

As small but astonishingly skilled hands turned the lump of clay into a two-handled vase, something remarkable happened. “It was like I fell in love,” she says two decades later. Even strangers saw it. “People actually remarked that I looked different. I had a glow about me. They asked if I had been in Florida.” (Dickey)

Dickey had a quick rise into the ceramics world, being represented by the Garth Clark Gallery in New York when she was still in school. Her works sold quickly, and she was in high demand without access to the materials she needed, like a kiln. Although extremely young the pressure pushed her to succeed. Dickey had just been hired by the University of Colorado when the Rule Gallery found her exciting and innovative sculptures. They have represented her ever since.

Dickey’s work walks the fine line between nostalgic narrative and modernism. The magic is in the simplicity of her work. Although highly detailed, each sculpture always contains thousands of little parts; the overall feeling is always calm and undemanding. Her work is so subtle in some cases that it can almost be overlooked. Gardens are often the subject of her sculptures placing childhood memories of hedge gardens side by side with minimalist forms.

She likes to work with the familiar, but insists her concepts are too layered in meaning to be described as merely representational. While Dickey shies from the label of whimsical, there is clearly a sense of humor present. She likes to poke fun at what she calls the self-seriousness of minimalism. (Deam)

Dickey’s installation at the Rule Gallery in March, “All is Leaf,” embodies the hallmarks of her work.

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“All is Leaf’ was designed specifically for the long, thin space of the Rule Gallery. Eleven unique sculptures are placed throughout the space, guiding the viewer through the fantasy garden Dickey has created. Eight large green sculptures pay homage to minimalist forms, including long rectangles along the floor, a large half arch, and L- shaped beams. While clearly drawing their shapes from minimalism they also mimic the architectural construction of a hedge maze. The other four sculptures are small and white, taking the shape of familiar garden characters; a lion, a running rabbit, a hawk, and a small round bush. Every sculpture is covered in thousands of identical leaves, glazed green and white respectively.

Like many of Dickey’s previous pieces, the two types of leaves used here are not meant to be botanically correct. Instead, they are take-offs on the stylized leaves, such as the quatrefoil, found throughout decorative-arts history. (MacMillan)

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Dickey is frequently exploring themes of nature and culture, her medium of clay being the ultimate bridge between the two opposing ideas. Clay being made of the earth means it inherently references earth, and Dickey likes to play off this association in her own art. “It thus straddles the seeming opposition between nature and culture, analogous to the logic of the garden, (Rule).” Clay is also the cornerstone of culture, ceramics often being the first indicator of an advancing civilization. Dickey explains the importance of clay extensively to her students, stressing its place in culture and art;

[Clay] is the stuff of the earth. Once it is fired, it becomes a cultural object. We interpret cultures through their ceramic objects. It’s permanent and impermanent, and that also could be the garden we’re talking about. (from “The Rocky Mountain News” June 14 2007)

Gardens embody the realm between nature and man as well, by taking nature into the constructed confines of the man made. In some ways there is nothing natural about a garden at all with the strict organization of hedges and flower beds. Dickey takes this a step further by removing nature all together making the mimicry complete. However, because she uses clay instead of paint or other materials, some acknowledgment of nature is still present.Gardens are often a starting point for people to interpret their own personal history. For Dickey they played an important role in own her childhood. “Her earliest memories are of scooting along the ground as her mother worked her magic on lavish backyard gardens, (Deam).” The playfulness inherent in the garden imagery immediately pulls up stories from everyone’s youth:

Formal gardens exist as much in our imaginations as they do in reality. With their secret nooks, fantastical naturalism and unexpected vistas, these impeccable oases have long sparked mystery, romance and flights of fancy. They have played key roles in everything from “Alice in Wonderland” to Jane Austen novels. (Macmillan)

 
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The white rabbit sculpture is especially evocative of Wonderland, and the lion conjures up imagery from “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.” Even the size of the sculptures enforces an idea of childhood. The Arch in the first sculpture you see as you enter and it is clearly too small for a full sized adult to pass through. One would have to crouch to go through it. The sculpture cuts the gallery in half, obscuring the back half. This gives the installation feeling of adventure, mystery, and secrecy; its almost as if some secret from the past could reveal itself amongst the sculptures.

The childish nostalgic feeling of the installation is kept from being overwhelming by the strict geometric forms. Clearly drawing from minimalism, anyone with a knowledge of art history can’t help but think of Robert Morris’s 1964 exhibition. “He displayed then-radical works derived from basic construction components, such as an L beam or plank, (Macmillan).” Dickey uses some of the exact same shapes from Morris’s installation in her own work. Unlike traditional minimalist sculpture, Dickey’s installation flaunts its adornment. Traditional minimalism revels in the simplicity of a cube or rectangle. This aesthetic is completely ignored in “All is Leaf” with every sculpture being completely covered in ceramic leaves. Without the detail of the leaves much of the charm would be lost.

This installation was a definite must see, and although simple at first glance it is layered with meaning.

Dickey’s work evokes a sense of wonder and playfulness seen in the best of post-modernism. Her sculptural gardens engage the viewer on many levels from pure, aesthetic pleasure through to the metaphysical, religious and social semiotics of gardens and food. (Garson)

Every detail of the installation is highly considered. No leaf is left unturned, reaffirming Dickey’s place in the ceramic world. Her quick rise to fame alongside this remarkable set of sculptures makes it clear the Kim Dickey deserves to be as highly regarded as she is.

 

Bibliography:

  1. Campbell, Michele. “Kim Dickey.” RULE Gallery. Web. 17 Apr. 2011. <http:// http://www.rulegallery.com/>.
  2. Deam, Jenny. “MORE THAN A PRETTY POT – Ceramic Artist Kim Dickey a Study in Contrasts.” Welcome to Denver Woman Magazine Online! Web. 17 Apr. 2011. <http://www.denverwoman.com/1008/arts1.html&gt;.
  3. MacMillan, Kyle. “Art Review: Kim Dickey’s Gardens of the Mind at Rule Gallery.” Colorado Breaking News, Sports, Weather, Traffic – The Denver Post. 11 Feb. 2011. Web. 17 Apr. 2011. <http://www.denverpost.com/art/ci_17343412&gt;.
  4. “Meet the Speakers- Kim Dickey.” Australian Ceramics Triennale. Ed. Shannon Garson. 26 May 2009. Web. 17 Apr. 2011. <http:// australianceramicstriennale.blogspot.com/2009/05/meet-speakers-kim-dickey.html>.

 

Image Credits:

  1. http://denverarts.org/local_exhibits/rule_kim_dickey_all_is_leaf
  2. http://www.denverpost.com/ci_17343412
  3. http://www.westword.com/2011-02-24/culture/kim-dickey-all-leaf-rule-gallery-review/2/

Woven Inspiration

FearNotA lot of my artistic endeavors are experiments for a possibly larger project. This piece was created as a prototype for one such idea. I had a number of colored grids, and a lot of scrap fabrics, paper, and ribbon. I wanted to weave a story of colors and textures through the grid that would flow together in a series. I had eight grids, four of each color; red, green, blue, and yellow. I decided to start with blue because I had the most of that color available in my scrap bin. In the end my experiment didn’t really capture what I had in my mind. I wanted to evoke more of a feeling, and the words and images woven through send a confusing message. I think if I was more interested in the end result, and less interested in seeing how the weaving actually worked I would have had a more successful project. Despite not being happy with the final vision of the piece, I was happy with how the different materials wove through the grid, and how the textures mixed together.

 

Mixing Media and Experimenting some More

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Mixing Media and Experimenting some More

I love creating collages out of magazine images. I went through a phase in college when I made a bunch of collages on poster boards. A while later I received a disposable camera with “fortunes” on the roll. After the roll was developed the fortunes appeared at the bottom of the images.

This is what the camera looked like. I bought the camera at Urban Outfitters, I believe. It seems this version is no longer available, but they have other disposable cameras that add flavor to your photography.

Many of collages were created with some sort of intention in mind. I loved the idea of taking pictures of these collages with my fancy fortune camera, and seeing which fortunes paired up with which images. I wanted random chance to bring more meaning to what I had already created.

Most of the images didn’t come out very well. Disposable cameras are pretty hit or miss because you can’t always see what you are taking a picture of well and the flash is terrible and so on. However this one image really captured the essence of the experiment.

At the end I piled all the collages into one pile. I love how the light from the window falls solely on the smaller collage in the middle. The caption is also fantastic “Its time for you to explore new interests.” Time to stop seeking new meaning in old stories and branch into something fresh.

When an Experiment Goes Awry

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When an Experiment Goes Awry

Some times when you play with a new art medium you love what you create simply because its so fun and new. Other times you create something that you absolutely hate. I rarely create a piece of art that I can’t find any redeeming quality in but this small piece managed to do it.

This was created using Wonder Under Fusible Web, which is a cool mesh that melts and sticks to things when you iron it. I was working with a group of friends and we had a lot of options. I made two right before this one that I liked, that are now in a frame, and thinking I had the hang of it I created this one.

I got a little stuck on the butterfly. I really liked it but had a hard time finding things I liked to go with it. I kinda just threw a few things together and hoped for the best. It was awful, so I tried adding more things (which has saved me in other mediums such as painting and decoupage). That however made it worse.

I am excited to say that now this piece has been archived on my blog I can throw it away guilt free. What do you do with pieces you create that you hate? Feel free to share in the comments.

Graffiti in Paris

In 2011 I studied abroad for the summer in Paris. I saw a LOT of art in museums while studying the famous artists of Paris. However, I also saw a lot of cool art on the streets. I was amazed at the breadth of materials used in Parisian Graffiti. It may have simply been that I have never lived in a big city with plenty of time and places to create super interesting street art, but I enjoyed the variety all the same.

The majority of street art that I saw were put up with wheat paste. Wheat paste is a really cheap glue that dries relatively quickly. It allows an artist to premake their art or design on light paper and then simply slap it onto the wall with some paste. I like these works a lot because they are often really detailed, and as the paper wears due to weather they gain a certain character.

I was also excited to see a Space Invader while in Paris. The artist Space Invader is relatively well known due to his specific style. He recreates pixellated characters from video games with colorful ceramic tiles. I can never know if the piece I saw was an actual space invader, or created by an imitator, but I’m not sure it matters.

I also saw a ton of graffiti on the walls of the metro. However I didn’t get any pictures of that art because the metro moved so fast and the lighting was too poor. The idea of temporal, guerilla art that is accessible to lots of people, due to its public nature, really appeals to me. However, flirting with “the law” or what not has always kept me from experimenting with street art.