Creative Circle Tuesdays: Kim Heise

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Name: 
Kim Heise
Website: 

What is your medium(s):
I like to use mediums and techniques that produce strange, otherworldly results, because I love looking at artwork and wondering how it could have possibly been made.  I use watercolor, oil and acrylic painting with brushes and knives, pastels, monotype and printmaking techniques, and I often combine one or more of those in one painting.  My paintings are usually large because I’m able to achieve more of the affects I desire when working with many of the mediums at that scale.  A dialog between the art and the viewer is also more person-to-person at that scale, which is something I’ve always loved about large pieces, so it’s a double win for me.

What type of art do you do? What inspires you?
I like how using strange techniques and mediums causes the hand of the artist to become obscured, creating distance between the object and the creator, which causes it to seem to take on a life of it's own. I love William Blake, Walton Ford, Kehinde Wiley (and other modern artists one might find in a more socially acceptable artist’s list of inspirations) but stories and fairytales are my main inspirations.  I spend large chunks of my time reading, watching TV, or browsing through illustrations and art online.  These stories have a huge impact on me emotionally, and for a large part they inform how I understand the world around me.  A few standouts: Hayao Miyazaki, Peter S Beagle’s The Last Unicorn, Dr. Who … Probably every movie, TV show, book or painting has made some impact on my life, many are precious to me. Recently, the problems of the world have been inspiring me to think about my artwork from an activism standpoint.  There are so many things that need to change. I think we are at a point in history where we all need to be doing something about something, and since stories affect me so deeply and personally, I believe that storytellers like artists and writers have a huge role to play.  I believe each new generation needs stories with which to connect to, and so the creation and telling of the stories will never end.  What gets me to pick up the paintbrush is the belief that I can tell a good story, or tell an old story in a new and meaningful way.

What pieces did you include in the exhibit "L’éléphant dans la Salle" and why? (please share some of the story behind some of the work) 
The pieces I submitted to the exhibit are part of an inquiry into anger that began a few years back.  I was really upset about violence at the time and was trying to do research to try and understand what was going on.  The idea that hatred and anger are root causes of violence stood out to me.  I set out to tell stories that would vilify hatred and anger in ways that I felt the stories around me had failed to do.  I used animals in a symbolic way, like fairy tales and folktales do, to try to illustrate these concepts in a way that anyone could understand.

Better Things 1 by Kim Heise
Better Things 1 by Kim Heise
In Better Things 1 and 2, two parrots are fighting each other and are so absorbed in knocking each other’s brains out that they don’t notice that snakes are everywhere.  The birds should be working together to fend off the snakes, or at least fly off and avoid the danger altogether.  Instead, they are focusing their attention on something much less important.  When I made this piece I was mostly thinking politics, and the two parrots were made red and blue to symbolize democrats and republicans. That same concept of being too angry and distracted to see the big picture evolved to become broader, more overreaching and less specific as I continued to address it in subsequent pieces, like in Snakes.

Just Mist by Kim Heise
Just Mist, a monotype depicting a stampeding elephant ignored by a rabbit in the foreground, was also included in the show. This was the last piece I made in that series, Inspired by Matthew Richard in his “Habits of Happiness” TED talk in which he said “Instead of looking outward we look inward. Look at anger itself. It looks very menacing, like a billowing monsoon, cloud, thunderstorm, we think we could sit on the cloud, but if you go there, it’s just mist. Likewise if you look at the thought of anger, it will vanish like frost under the morning sun. If we do this again and again, the propensity, the tendency of anger to arise again will be less and less each time we have dissolved it. And at the end, although it may arise it will just cross the sky like a bird not leaving any track.” That really touched me and made me feel hopeful about our capabilities as human beings to overcome evil, and that was a thought that went on to inform the series of artwork that followed. 

Self taught or traditionally trained?
I do have traditional training; as a child and teenager I took art classes at the Coral Springs Museum of Art, and then I studied art at FAU with a concentration in painting, although I also took several printmaking classes, including monotype. For the most part though, I learn a new medium through my own experimentation.

Share one thing that has impacted your work? Name one thing we may not know about you or your work?:
Something that I don’t normally share is that I’ve been struggling with tennis elbow for the past few years.  It prevents me from doing as much artwork as I would like, much less actually.  I go months without picking up a pencil to sketch anything because I physically cannot do it.  It has certainly impacted the way my art is being made right now, making it very tricky to work at the large scale I enjoy working at.  It has changed my process as well. I work much slower now, and use mediums that flow rather than those they require a lot of pressure to apply.  I’ve been slowly improving, and I am expecting be able to do some large paintings this fall.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
If I could change one thing about the world, I’d make people more compassionate and loving toward each other and the environment.

If you had access to a time machine, where would you go?
If I had a time machine I’d probably go see dinosaurs.

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring  creative, what would it be?
My advice to an aspiring creative would be to exercise regularly and eat lots of vegetables, and recycle.

If you could have one super power, what would it be?
I’d like to be able to fly.

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