For the exhibition, “Balancing Acts”, which will be at Twiggs Gallery in Boscawen, NH, from July 30 through September 2, 2016, I’m putting together a series of interviews and/or studio visits with the artists whose work I’ve chosen for the show. The six artists, Jeanne Borofsky, Pamala Crabb, Kimberly Curry, Angel Dean, Soosen Dunholter, and Hélène Farrar, all had works whose content seemed to coalesce around a sort of precarious balancing act. Farrar’s titles, such as “What We Carry: Middle Age” sparked an idea that I then presented to Twiggs director Laura Morrison as a theme for a curated show.
I am interested in some of the difficult issues that come up for artists, trying to balance a life of making the rent, making art, selling your art, and of still having a social life, family and friends. I made that the theme of this show, since I noticed that it often appeared in the work we are doing. Sometimes it is direct and head-on, other times it seems to be a subterranean current running through the work.
I visited Kimberly Curry in her Maine studio in late June 2016 for a tour and a conversation. In Curry’s Wallpaper Series I felt the tug of a teetering balance, between old and new values, between things being celebrated but then dismissed under the weight of time. We met in her front room studio, which was light-filled, cheery, impeccably organized, and calm. She has been making art in this space for about six years.
I asked about the Wallpaper series that I chose for this exhibition. She told me that she began using encaustic as a way to incorporate wallpaper remnants from old Maine homes. “I was intrigued by the stories that wallpaper told. Because this was during a time of prosperity, people could afford wallpaper. Then it got old and run down. It got re-wallpapered and they’d say, “Look, it’s better”, and then that got old and run down. Later people looked at it and said, “Oh I hate this wallpaper!” and they tore it down. But at one point it was loved. We should remember.
Curry collected a lot of wallpaper and did a series of paintings with the paper and encaustic, but several of them didn’t feel finished, so she put them aside. “I waited about eight years. And then I was looking for something to submit to a show and I pulled it out and knew what to do. It’s funny how it needed to gestate all that time.” That’s when she added the top layers like those you’ll see in “Right on the Edge of Possible” In her statement Curry writes: “This time, the wallpaper is accepted for where it is now. The wax creates both texture and luminous levels of celebration.”
For many artists the biggest struggle is finding time to make art when holding a full-time job for income. I could tell Curry thought a lot about this thorny issue and had come up with a plan. “What are your strategies for balancing your art life?”, I asked. “My art life is my life, it’s the job that’s secondary. I have to make sure that 1. I get enough sleep—at least 8 hours; 2. I meditate, it keeps me grounded; 3. I eat properly; 4. I get some kind of exercise or movement; and 5. I have to be sure to be working on some art, always making something”.
She doesn’t have set studio hours, but Curry always has a sketchbook handy. “I’m always thinking about my next project, and I can say, ‘OK, take some time to work on this now’. And it could be in here (my studio) or in my kitchen.”
Curry’s day job is with Goodwill, where she’s been working for about six years. She has worked in the nonprofit sector for almost 20 years. Though her background is in interior design, she much prefers working on the “nonprofit side of things”. “I like that I go to work and I’m plugged into the community. It’s important to me”, she says.
Visit Balancing Acts at Twiggs Gallery, July 30 – September 2, 2016, to see all three of Curry’s works from this series. The opening reception will be August 4, from 5 – 7 pm. Visit Kimberly Curry’s website at kimberlycurryart.com.