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Jun 1 / Kimberly Kwee

Kimberly Interiors and Homework

I have to recommend this book to anyone interested in making housekeeping, home, and interior spaces artful.

“Home Comforts: The Art & Science of Keeping House” Cheryl Mendelson, 1999, New York, NY, Scribner. But, you have to read it at the same time as “The Poetics of Space: The Classic Look at How We Experience Intimate Places” Gaston Bachelard, Beacon Press, 1994. My good friend Mariah Johnson gave me these two books together as a parting gift when she graduated. They inspired Kimberly Interiors and Homework.

Sometime in the year following graduate school, I came up with a project I called Homework. My thought was to relate my domestic life, including my social relationships, to my art practice. I had moved all my materials and my sewing machines to my apartment and I found I was spending a lot of time cooking and arranging the stuff in my home. I struggled with depression in that year as I hardly made any work. At one point, I wrote in my sketchbook, “I am working all the time. When I forget this, I really do stop working and then, I am lost.” So I had to be an artist all the time and that meant changing the form and scope of my practice. A few more events came together which led to Homework. Most of my friends who made art started moving away the summer after graduation. This was the summer that I believed most strongly in the idea of Homework, but I wasn’t really making anything.

A few significant things happened (significant may be an overstatement). One, I traded a measuring tape in the shape of a ship to a metals artist named Carrie for a mini measuring tape that read “Kimberly Interiors.” Voila! Two, my friend Masako took a teaching appointment in Ohio. She needed help getting her moving truck and her car to her new home. Kristi Rae, also an artist from the U of I MFA program, and I agreed to drive the truck for her. We both thought of the trip as more than a favor. It was a gesture that I couldn’t articulate at the time, but I knew it was an opportunity to put into practice this idea of being an artist all the time. That weekend, I made short videos of Masako trying to remember how to fold a kimono. I took note of the fact that she desperately needed warm, soft light in her new apartment. Just a few months before, I had been making lamps for an installation and was toying with the idea of placing them in people’s homes. I promised Masako a lamp. It took a long time for me to make good on that promise, but this was probably the first gesture that fell under Homework. A narrower focus for the project was defined by actually placing something in person’s home. I had to love the person, of course.

I placed two more lamps that summer. Two very close friends, who happen to be married, found jobs in different cities. They began a process of dividing their home and their lives into two separate and new spaces. Karin, also an artist, was teaching in St. Louis and asked me to help her set-up her new apartment. I made a lamp for her husband Jimi, who happened to be my upstairs neighbor. We discussed more lamps and pillows with speakers sewn inside that played breathing noises. I was very close to them that summer. That seems to be what Kimberly Interiors does.

So, if you are lonely and in need of lamplight, consider inviting Kimberly Interiors into your home.