Viva Bang Bang

Kit Kite

Brittany Taylor1 Comment
Kit Kite, The X Install Portraits 2014

Kit Kite, The X Install Portraits 2014

I first learned about Kit Kite while journeying down a rabbit hole through the world wide web, searching for something I can't remember. In a sea full of selfies, Kit Kite's self portraiture immediately struck me as being different, as more deserving of attention. Her work does not pester or persist with the usual demands selfies often scream at us - "Tell me I'm pretty! Tell me I'm worthy! Tell me this hair cut was not a mistake!" The portraits in both her "The X Housewife Portraits" series and "The X Install Portraits" series - simply ask, "What is home?"

Though she admits to taking more than 11,000 selfies over the course of a year (laughably small by the standards of the average tween no doubt), her self-portraits are not merely vain snapshots. They turn the idea of a portrait around on itself, obscuring what is usually the most prominent and most important part of a portrait - the face. The objects become the main subject and the self becomes lost, relegated to the background where it is merely a prop.

I met Kit Kite in person at Smiling Elephant back in March. It was right after our "snow-pocalypse" and she made a funny joke about the potholes that littered the roads. She was incredibly open and kind. In spite of her admitted lack of sleep, she had a fervent energy when talking about her work and before I knew it, she'd taken me on a 45-minute journey through her world that I would have sworn had happened in the blink of an eye. Below are some highlights from that conversation.

Kit Kite, The X Install Portraits 2014

Kit Kite, The X Install Portraits 2014

VBB | What artists do you most admire & look to for inspiration?

KK | I love Bernhard and Anna Blume, the conceptual artists. Their main work was photography but they were husband and wife and their whole process was in isolation and they did all these vignettes and strange narratives and photography that was amazing and bizarre. They did it all alone by themselves in their studio or in their house, so their life as well as individually was kinda eccentric. It’s a little bizarre, but together I love, love their work. I like Francis Bacon’s paintings, he’s been a huge influence. I don’t know if in my own paintings it would come across, but he’s really impacted me just in how he communicates through the visual and subconscious level. I feel like I can feel him in his paintings. Whether that’s good or bad i dont know. But it’s like it resonates with his work. It's almost like you're there sort of looking inside his head. There’s a lot of painters like that, but him especially. Maybe because it is so in your face. 

VBB | So you still paint, right?

KK | Yes.

VBB | Even through the whole X Housewife series, you still found time to paint or is it something that’s kind of on the back burner?

KK | No, I’ve worked a little bit, it’s mainly just in the sketchbook, working that out. How I drafted that last series out was through photographs instead of sketching, I think that’s how it segued into photography and the video because otherwise I don’t think I would have ever done it that way.

Kit Kite, The X Install Portraits 2014

Kit Kite, The X Install Portraits 2014

The X Housewife Portraits

The X Housewife Portraits

VBB | Did you go into making the photos with a plan? 

KK | Yea, sometimes there was a lot of intention, like there was a specific object I wanted to use and it would take me between 3 and 4 days to construct whatever device it was out of those objects to then pose with. I was shooting for a year and a half that way. It was always very obviously effected relationally, something would happen and I would be like, "I’m gonna go in my room and shoot." And it was actually very therapeutic. Where I didn’t feel like there was anything present, I could be present with that and know how to execute it. I got real familiar with it. It was like this routine and it was like every other day or every day sometimes or several in a day I would shoot.

VBB | Was there ever a time, maybe early on, where you were like, "Uhh, what am I doing? I have a headdress on made of Q-tips."? When did you first share the work with someone else? Was that nerve-wracking or were you pretty confident?

KK | No, because I don’t think I ever had intention of it becoming anything more than it was. It was like, you know, when you sketch in a sketch book, you don't think about what people are going to think. You’re at your safest. 

And posting on Instagram - when I started it, I had just gotten an iPhone, I didn’t really know what that was, so in my head I didn’t even really realize that people could see it. I mean I did, but I was thinking, "Oh, this will be a great way to catalogue my images and then refer back, and neatly organize and keep up with what I’m doing."

And then on Instagram a lot of those Instagram galleries wanted to host it or publish it or whatever which I wasn’t familiar with either. Some of them wanted me to write about the work and others just asked several questions or didn’t say anything at all, they would just post it or feature it or whatever, so in that time it was great because I think it was challenging to me because it was helping me to find what the concept was.

Kit Kite, The X Install Portraits 2014

Kit Kite, The X Install Portraits 2014

VBB | What is your studio time like?

KK | I probably need a better schedule. I do need to find slots of time and be a little more intentional because I’m literally working on that project [Domestic Smudge] which I haven't even really started, but I wanna really make sure with this next series I develop the concept fully before I even make the first thing, so that I don’t stray away.

With this ex-housewife series, I started drafting before I really even knew what the concept was. Traditionally the practice of conceptual work isn't like that, so I’m going to do it a little differently. There’s a lot of down time that’s not real productive looking. People can’t go visit my studio and really see anything happening because it’s mostly been writing and researching and sketching so it’s kind of slow production at this point.

It’s hard because I’m also writing an art play. It’s a performance piece that’s going to be shot as a short film, so I have deadlines on that to write and then I’m working with this artist out in L.A. on a project that came through Instagram. And then I've been working on another thing in the last 2 months with Burlei records. 

VBB | Wow you’re so busy! You have so many cool things going on.

KK | Yea, and I have two children and I work a pub job. 

VBB | Do you sleep? 

KK | I haven’t lately. I’ve been staying up writing. I’ve been writing so much lately which is really what I love. I think a lot of conceptual artists are really like writers. I love the idea of the research, honing in and just condensing to a paragraph this whole visual study and so I’ve been writing a lot. And I’m really interested in play writing and script writing and film. I love film. So I'm busy and I don’t know how to always manage the time as well as sleep, but I do need to sleep because I have to rise in the morning with my children and be mother.

Kit Kite, The X Install Portraits 2014

Kit Kite, The X Install Portraits 2014

VBB | You said it takes a little bit of time to produce your work, but you’re sharing your progress throughout that production phase. Are you ever worried that someone in that timespan is going to steal your ideas?

KK | People posed that same question to me when I was posting the drafts on Instagram. I think I’d just really bottomed out and didn't care anymore and was like, "You know, if someone steals it - fine." I think what made me confident going into it and exposing it visually was that my story, the content itself, was unique. I was living it, so I felt that nobody could take that.

The way that I would write about it or the way that I would look at it and interpret it, they just couldn’t. There are people that have put stuff in front of their face and shot a self-portrait. It’s not necessarily an incredibly unique sort of thing, but I think what causes my work to maybe be different is the concept and that’s really it.

The way that you would interpret your idea, even if it’s a concept that someone else could talk about, it’s going to be unique and no one can take that - especially if it’s a real story. When I work on a series, it's usually something I'm living in that moment and I really want to talk about, so it's a pretty fresh, right-off-the-press kind of thing. Right now, it's sort of about accepting the fact that I'm, you know, a single mother and it's loneliness which has been talked about, but in the last series it was isolation and now it's kind of about "How does one look at themselves alone or when they're left on their own and then only have sort of a memory of something that might have looked like their was company kept?" What does that look like? And then translating that and I've been writing about it and trying to figure that out. 

I live in the suburbs, so it's visually all around me - the domestic, suburban landscape. That influences me and I'm submerged in that.

Kit Kite, The X Install Portraits 2014

Kit Kite, The X Install Portraits 2014

VBB | Do you identify with the suburbs or is it more like a world you're living in as an observer, in it but not of it?

KK | Yea, I felt like that as a kid. I'm just observing here. I'm just here for showtime wherever I'm at.

VBB | It doesn't matter where you are?

KK | No, and I'm really easily amused, so anywhere I'm out I can say like, "Let's talk about this very sort of boring backdrop and let's try to pull or find the unfamiliar in something so very familiar, there's got to be something."

Kit Kite, The X Install Portraits 2014

Kit Kite, The X Install Portraits 2014

The X Housewife Portraits

The X Housewife Portraits

VBB | That’s cool to hear you say that because I feel like I hear so many artists say that they have to be in the city near the action.

KK | Individuals can be heavily influenced by their atmosphere and I know that there are certain people that have to have a certain feel that's around them to be able to work. And I guess because I haven't really had that luxury in choosing what that is, it's kind of been like you don't make anything at all or you find something to say and make out of this place. It's been a good practice. I have no surprises and a limited budget or no budget and I don't have any equipment and I live in the suburbs so, "Ok let's make something!" [laughing] "Let's feel that, let's sit in it, absorb it and make things out of garbage or whatever we can find." It's a simple way...I hope I never lose it either if things were to change. I mean everything always does, but even then I hope that I can always touch down in that place wherever I'm at and be present and learn to be content wherever I'm at.

Kit Kite, The X Install Portraits 2014

Kit Kite, The X Install Portraits 2014

VBB | How do you feel about the idea of investing in art and how would you feel if your art was acquired as an investment rather than for pure enjoyment?

KK | There's a business side of art that I think is important and has its place. That is not the end all and it doesn't dictate what I make. It’s not the fuel that creates the work, but I wouldn’t mind people collecting my work. I ultimately would like people to be moved and interested but it is a business.

VBB | Have you ever made anything to personal to sell?

KK | Yes. I have. I have it hanging in my living room and it's just one painting. There was no series. It's just one painting that I did when I was 22 - so 12 years ago and I've never really painted anything like it. It's very different and I think it hits right where I was at and it’s very personal and it will always be with me. I can never sell that. 

*All photos property of Kit Kite and used with Artist's permission.

Follow Kit Kite on Instagram


Miranda Herrick

Brittany Taylor1 Comment

Miranda Herrick is a Tennessee based artist whose geometric art, created from a mix of materials that includes recycled trash, is mesmerizing. She describes her work as both systematic and intuitive and today she shares with us details about her process, her thoughts on being a working artist, and her latest work.

geometric marker art miranda herrick tennessee

VBB | Tell us about your work & creative process.

MH | My most recent series of work consists of larger scale pieces made from recycled bits of aluminum cans nailed to MDF board.  My process tends to be very meditational.  Whether I am making a small drawing or starting a large aluminum piece, I usually begin by penciling off a grid and letting my pen decide what path it wants to take from point A to point B.  That decided, I simply repeat that action X number of times and go with the flow.  It is a meditation in action and I never know what a piece is going to look like until I am finished.  

VBB | What led you to start creating your colorful, often geometric series?

MH | I can't remember a time when I didn't draw patterns and shapes.  It is a very intuitive action for me.  About 15 years ago I started creating mixed media pieces.  These included quilts made from Starburst wrappers, rugs made from Wal-mart bags, ransom letter type copies of Bible verses whose letters where cut from magazines.  I brought these ideas back to my patterns about ten years ago and started making my geometric images out of cereal box- type recycling and then aluminum cans.  The cans work great because they bring an unexpected rich luster to the patterns.  

geometric marker art miranda herrick tennessee artist
organic marker art miranda herrick tennessee

VBB | What's the best part about being an artist in Nashville? Is there anything special about this city's art community? 

MH | Nashville is a wonderful city and we are getting to experience it during an exciting time of growth and transition.  There is definitely a lot of momentum in the art community right now.  There is a great deal of energy and many exciting events occurring at new venues in the Wedgewood Houston area and at Oz Arts.  Community minded artists like Megan Kelley of Haus Rotations and entrepreneurs like Chuck Beard of East Side Story are doing everything they can to make the Nashville arts community both larger and more intimate by spreading the word about happenings and giving folks opportunities.  This, of course, barely scratches the surface.  

geometric marker art miranda herrick tennessee
geometric marker art miranda herrick tennessee

VBB | I feel that often times people have a vision of the artist secluded in a studio apart for normal life, but in reality many modern artists have day jobs, families, volunteer work, etc. etc. How do you schedule time to work/when do you work on your art? Is it hard for you to balance being a working artist with the other demands of daily life?

MH | Yes, there may be artists out there who are cloistered in their studio, but I know that my friends and I all struggle with the balance of day jobs, family and finding time to be creative. I feel fortunate, to a degree, that the artwork I am currently creating is fairly systematic.  I think that makes it easier for me to work on art for an hour or two in the evening after the day job and commute are over.  Maybe I can get in 'the zone' a little more quickly.  I don't wait for inspiration.  

VBB | Your work can be seen in Bennett gallery in Green Hills (and other galleries?), what advice do you have for artists just starting out that might be seeking gallery representation?  

MH | This could be part two of your last question, because this is another thing to add to day jobs, family, and other things that compete for an artist's time.  Networking, applying to galleries, maintaining a web presence, and a good deal of self promoting are all things that an artist should probably be doing to try to get her work seen.  And I've always felt that if you are making visual art, it may as well be seen!  

geometric marker art miranda herrick tennessee
geometric marker art miranda herrick tennessee

VBB | What's next for you and your work?  

MH | Right now, I plan to continue working on my aluminum can series, Reflective.  (I have attached a picture of Reflective IV, @ 53" x 53" as well as a picture of my shelf of accumulated cans.)  I may create a second Works and Days series in 2017, ten years after the first series.  I am going to pursue representation out of state and continue the attempt to have my artwork seen.

Reflective aluminum can art Miranda Herrick
Before and After 

Before and After 

VBB | One of your artworks, Works and Days is a gorgeous series of drawings that was turned into a book - one for every day in 2007. Tell us about that particular project. What did you learn from the experience of creating something for the same project every day for a year? Is that sort of discipline important for all artists?  

MH | I had created a small series of drawings in 2006.  They were 4" x 4" pattern drawings.  They seemed too small for titles, so they were only labeled with the date I completed them.  I was surprised by how people reacted to knowing the dates the works were made.  I kept hearing folks say things like, "Oh you drew this on my birthday!"  So I decided that in 2007, I would complete a drawing for everyone's birthday (Sorry, not a leap year.)  I tied the works together as a series by gradating down the color wheel.  All the pieces in January were red; February drawings were red-orange, etc.  So the end product was an elaborated 365 piece color wheel.

The larger goal of the series was simply it's completion, the sheer numbers.  But for me, for my art, the outcome was more than that.  Pushing myself that far lead to lots of discoveries for me as an artist. The creation of one thing leads to the next.  You have to make that first thing, before the next thing can be fully articulated.  Eight years later, I still find fodder in the completion of those 365 works.

And yes, last year I was very lucky to have been helped by over one hundred people in the creation of a book of those drawings.  I launched a successful crowd- funding campaign back in September of 2014. (WARNING:  Here is some of that shameless self promotion I mentioned earlier!)    That book is currently available in Clarksville at the Custom's House Museum and in Nashville at The Frist Center for Visual Arts and Bennett Galleries.

See more of Miranda's work at her website.



*All images used with artist's permission

Stephanie Jeanne Hardy

Brittany TaylorComment
Alfonso Stephanie Jeanne horse art

I came across Stephanie Jeanne's work while visiting Bennet Galleries in Nashville a couple Saturdays ago and her bright compositions featuring the simplified figures of horses stood out to me (which says something because basically everything in Bennett Gallery is awesome). 

Stephanie has spent 25 years of her life riding horse and grew up competing as a show jumper. She still rides and competes with her horses Rory and Snuffles when she can. In addition to having her work at Bennett Galleries, Stephanie also has her work in Griffin's Studio in Hopkinsville, KY. She is also a part of the Art of the Horse feature in May's issue of American Art Collector Magazine and will be part of the "Creativity Found", Volume 03 of Trouve magazine in June. 

When I reached out to Stephanie to talk about sharing her work, she shared this quote from Ronald Reagan with me, "There is nothing better for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse." and followed by saying that, "Horses have been a significant part of my life, my soul and my well being. I only started painting them 4 years ago and found that these animals were translating onto the canvas in an authentic, soulful way, different from my previous work. However often I choose to paint different subjects, I always come back to the horse. Someone asked me recently if I am going to get sick of painting the horses that I've been working on in my current collection, and I thought...'how could I get sick of this??' I absolutely love painting them. I love the challenge of capturing them in a deliberately abstract way and I love how each piece takes on a personality of its own. My work naturally evolves over time into new styles, but for now I am in my element painting my favorite creatures on earth using vivid colors to celebrate their beauty and spirit."

Check out Stephanie's work online at her website (where she currently has sale items from her studio listed - original horse painting for $50!) and in person at Bennett Galleries or Griffin's Studio.

Scuttle Stephanie Jeanne bird art
Kelpie Stephanie Jeanne horse art
Augustus Stephanie Jeanne horse art
However often I choose to paint different subjects, I always come back to the horse
Bright Country Stephanie Jeanne horse art
Epona Stephanie Jeanne horse art
My work naturally evolves over time into new styles, but for now I am in my element painting my favorite creatures on earth using vivid colors to celebrate their beauty and spirit.
Ollie Stephanie Jeanne bird art
Peach Blossom Stephanie Jeanne horse art

*All images used with artist's permission and are the property of Stephanie Jeanne Hardy

Loving Lately [ CRISTINA CANALE ]

Brittany TaylorComment

The colors, texture and general vibrancy of Canale's latest work draw me in and are just delightful. The fluidity between figures and abstract background is so interesting to me and has me doing double takes to get a closer look.

From Canale's website:

Cristina Canale’s painting reveals rather unique features, notably the way in which the figurative elements of the composition are always on the verge of impending dissolution into abstraction. Her landscape seem to portray, as has been noted previously, a liquid world, in which a few recognisable elements emerge between fields of colour that are juxtaposed in harmonic fashion, despite the wide variety of colours in each painting.

*All images the property of Cristina Canale