If you follow Sunroom on Instagram you'll know we're regularly sharing snippets of the interdisciplinary art that's inspiring us, be it photos or paintings or land art. Kim Keever's work truly took our breath away when we discovered it: based in Miami, Kim creates his pieces by dropping paint into aquarium-like water containers and letting color-driven magic organically unfold. We reached out to Kim to discover more about his process, inspiration, and ongoing creative practice. Read on for our conversation!
Can you share a bit about yourself + your background?
My first love in life was always making art but I ended up graduating in mechanical engineering and doing some work for NASA in Hampton Virginia. I dropped out of engineering graduate school to pursue art full time and moved to New York City. It was the most important decision in my life.
At the time I was mainly a painter but I also made etchings and lithographs and drew incessantly. Eventually I decided to make models and photograph them. This led to making models and placing them in water in an aquarium and photographing the results by adding a little paint to the water.
Eventually I reached a point where I decided to just drop the paint into the water and see what would happen. The first time I did it felt like one of those A-HA moments.
That was 6 years ago and I am still happily chugging along with this basic idea. I make certain changes in the tank to force the paint to flow in different patterns but it's the random quality of what I get that keeps me enthralled.
What has been your trajectory into art: how did you get started, how has your work evolved, and how you describe the work you are drawn to creating?
I don't know what kindergarten is like now, but for me it was a time where you could pretty much do what you wanted...play with blocks, talk to friends, get ready for lunch. It was in first grade where things got a little more serious and at one point we were all asked to make a drawing of a tree. At the end of the session my tree looked more like a real tree than the other kids and I felt like, 'wow I can do something really well.'
I didn't take art seriously until I came to the conclusion that I only had one life to live (that I knew about...) Once I reached that point I knew that being an artist was what I wanted to do in my life.
I also saw a video of Picasso painting on clear plexiglass. The camera was on the other side so you could see his face as he painted. He looked incredibly happy. He was in his 70s and I knew that when I reached my 70s I would want to be like that.
How do you get in the creative “zone”? Time of day, type of space, music, etc…
For me, it's very easy. I just do it. I would say I am driven by the desire to keep creating and to keep improving my work. I am always looking for that next amazing piece...Maybe I take it a little too seriously but [art is] the true joy in my life. I've lived the "starving artist" life for many years to prove it; it's only in recent years that my work has been taken more seriously in terms of exhibitions and sales.
I used to play music while I worked but now I prefer the quiet. In a way it's like the opposite of meditation: You let everything flow into your head except for serious decisions you have to make as you do the work.
What ideas, color combinations, or art concepts have been inspiring you recently?
Recently I moved to Miami. It's a whole new world here and I have a lot more space. I am also working with a new gallery, Sponder Gallery, here in Florida.
I'm on Biscayne Bay so I've been taking pictures of the waves and I've placed one on the back of my aquarium as a backdrop. We'll see what kind of images I get.
It's always an experiment once the paint goes into the water.
Describe a typical day in the life for you.
Since we are all living in the age of Corona, I can only describe that kind of "typical" day.
Right now, part of the day I spend unpacking. I brought down some motley furniture and 154 boxes with me — my aquarium is set up and ready to go but I'm postponing starting any new images because once I start making work, I'll ignore most of the other things I have to do (including unpacking the rest of the boxes).
I also try to spend part of my day on something fun: Today I went to the ocean and walked along the boardwalk. Though we cannot walk on the beach right now, it gives me great pleasure to be in its vicinity.
Who are some of your favorite creatives in any medium? Is there anyone newly on your radar we should know about?
Though it may seem a little old-fashioned at this point, my main inspiration has always been Picasso. He did so much work in so many fields. When I was a young artist I used to think I could catch up with him but I've given up on that idea.