The Scaled-Down Truth

Art, Exhibition, Installation, Narrative, Residency, Story, Works In Progress

“The Truth Has No Borders” is a multimedia piece that integrates 40 years of writing, photography, music, film, and art into a single cohesive, immersive installation.

It was originally created to exhibit in a shipping container for COCA’s 30-day Storefronts [UN]contained Residency in 2016. Lately, I’ve been feeling the need to revisit this project, and fully realize my vision. But I’ve been struggling with how to convey the impact of this piece in grant/exhibition applications.

I shot this test video on-site when I only had the first two layers of paper panels up (I wanted to see how the projection & sound worked in the space.) The final installation had 7 layers of paper panels.  But my dream is to FILL the room with floor-to-ceiling encaustic paper panels — a layered paper screen embedded with images of my Mom’s Korean family, that are illuminated by the projected moving imagery of my Dad’s Chagga family on Kilimanjaro.

When I brought this dilemma to Larry Calkins, he suggested building a model of the project to film. Brilliant!!  And so my diorama project begins…(projection and sound to follow).

The many faces of “Broadstairs” (Origin story)

#NoPanelLeftBehind, Art, Exhibition, Narrative, Origin story, Story, Works In Progress

One painting, from start to finish, in 768 days:

This 24″x 24″ painting has undergone a surprising number of transformations before finally settling on the Broadstairs piece currently exhibiting at Northwest Encaustics.  As one of the more epic #NoPanelLeftBehind pieces, I decided to trace Broadstairs back to its origins, and offer snapshots of its evolution over the past 2 years…

 

March 13, 2017

Most of my pieces begin with writing…whether it be part of a journal entry, passage from a book, lyric, poem. The base layers here also includes wood glue burn, yellow india ink, and several clear coats of encaustic medium.

 

March 13, 2017

School’s out, which means my studio assistant is on hand to scrape back the layers. Always happy to let the kid loose on my paintings. I consider this a good return on my investment.😉

 

March 15, 2017

My morning journal entry was all about how Everything is Connected.  So I guess it should be no surprise that this would spill over into the studio…

 

May 2, 2017

Today is Scraping day. These wax scraps are SO beautiful!! They remind me of tulip petals.  Trying to figure out how/where I can make use of these…

 

May 8, 2017

UGH! I know most pieces go through several ugly stages as they evolve, but this one is a bit much.  Still…playing around with some ideas for the “petals”.

 

June 12, 2017

I found The Perfect home for those beautiful wax scrapings in another painting!!🤩 They work beautifully as  beautiful blow-away tulip petals on this Self-Portrait piece I’m working on.  It was just what this piece needed, an indication of how fleeting memories can be. I live for these Aha! moments…

 

December 20, 2017

This piece has been on a looooong Time Out.  But Vacation means All Day Art Dates in PJs with the kid, listening to our favorite podcasts.  I needed to seriously disrupt the surface of this piece, so I invited her to have at it!  And I love having the kid’s hand in my artwork, at any stage.

 

February 6, 2018

And now, for something completely different!  I drew my version of an elephant, then painted over the piece with oil and cold wax.  Traces of the red with the yellow “sun” remain visible.  This elephant hung in our living room for 6 months.

 

October 28, 2018

Re-purposing my elephant piece, which was in limbo and going nowhere. After numerous failed attempts at “making friends with gray”, I’m determined to keep painting and scraping and embedding and fussing til I feel good about this.  Using oil paint and cold wax medium, I want this piece to evoke large craggy rocks.

 

November 1, 2018

I found Fall color inspiration on my morning walk — a blanket golden ginkgo leaves on the wet asphalt.  This was just what I needed to get this piece over the hump. I see now where this piece wants to go. Feeling grateful for breakthrough moments of love and light…

 

November 27, 2018

This piece is back on the easel after a much needed break…”Out of Darkness, Light” (24″×24″).  I like where this piece ended up, but it doesn’t feel done.  So I’m putting it up in our house so I can live with it in our space.  Often times, with this casual daily contact, I start to see what’s working, what’s not, and where the piece wants to go next…

 

February 13, 2019

Only one hour in the studio today before I head to work. I’ve been trying (unsuccessfully) to destroy this too-precious, overly-controlled piece. So today, with little time to think, I took my demo up a notch.  I scraped down the entire piece, then covered it with stream-of-consciousness scribbles in French, using oil pastel and graphite, writing with my left hand.

 

February 13, 2019

I scraped the piece down, and layered 3 different whites over top, then used solvent to dissolve the surface. I look forward to seeing this with fresh eyes after my gallery shift today. Hopefully the original piece doesn’t surface again!!!

 

February 13, 2019

Came home and made one alteration…and now the piece has reached a resting point. “Reconciliation“: 24″×24” – oil& cold wax over encaustic on a cradled wood panel.

 

February 18, 2019

Taking a moment to bathe this piece in some much-needed warmth. The transformation continues…

 

February 26, 2019

The painting of 3 overlapping rings went thru several more iterations today before finally landing here.

 

April 15, 2019

Happy Monday!! Taxes are done, kid’s back in school. After taking a month off of painting to work on my sculptural piece (new for me/fun to do/not my forte)–I’m So Happy to return to painting. And nothing brings me more pleasure than radically making over pieces that weren’t quite doing it for me!! From white to black…

 

April 20, 2019

Calling this piece Done!! This piece has the distressed/topographic feel I’ve been aiming for.  When I asked my friend Connie for title suggestions, she pulled up images on her phone of the white cliffs of Dover.  And suddenly it hit me.  The boarding school I went to, between the ages of 7-10, was in Broadstairs, Kent (20 miles north of Dover) where we had the same chalky cliffs.

And then I remembered…my school had a separate boarding house for the younger students.  The older students boarded in the main school building across the street, which also contained the cafeteria, the gym, etc.  So twice a day every day, for breakfast and dinner, we would head over to the main school via a secret, winding, underground chalk tunnel, lit sporadically with hanging lamps.

With this memory resurrected, I looked at this piece, the gold lit passage across the white distressed chalky surface, and I realized that the final version of this piece had finally arrived.  I was done.

A short video reveals the peekaboo bling.☆

Artist Statement

Art, Exhibition, Gallery, Narrative, Solo Series, Story, Works In Progress

Eliaichi Kimaro

WEATHERED & WORN
Solo show

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Of the 40+ paintings in my upcoming solo show, 25 are new and exhibiting for the first time.

Weathered and Worn will be part of West Seattle Art Walk in May and June.
The exhibit will be up through the month of June.

NORTHWEST ENCAUSTIC
7150 44th Ave SW., Seattle 98136
OPENING RECEPTION
MAY 9, 2019
6-9pm

ARTIST RECEPTION
JUNE 13, 2019
6-9pm

Artist Statement (excerpt)

…This body of work hangs together loosely.  To me, they are more about the process, the journey of becoming.  They evoke the layered narratives that we all carry—as individuals in this present moment, and as the embodiment of our ancestors’ stories spanning generations and continents.   They represent new directions I am taking as an artist — using mark-making, texture, cold wax medium and organic materials to tell a story.  Some of these pieces came into being fully-formed.  Some were labors of love, with 2 or 3 completely different paintings existing beneath the surface.

While I am excited to share these paintings in their current incarnations, some of them will be radically transformed – melted, scraped down, carved into, painted over—when they return to my studio.  But as a lover of process, I believe that even our work-in-progress selves deserve an occasional spotlight…to be seen, witnessed and considered in our current state of being…and becoming.

The Stories We Inherit

Art, Film, Installation, Origin story, Story, Works In Progress

Backstory:  Couple months ago, a friend invited me to create a piece for a project she’s working on about dimensional wax pieces. While most of my encaustic paintings are textured and could be considered “dimensional,” I really wanted to push myself to get off the wood panel and see what I could create in 3D space. She asked for a piece that reflected the themes of cultural inheritance and legacy I explored in my film, A Lot Like You.

This prompt reminded me that in April 2018, I pulled out the transcripts of family stories I collected for my film — and, with no clear end goal in mind, I started cutting up and inking the shredded transcripts…trusting that they would some day find their way into a piece…

4/17/18 – These interviews I transcribed with my family elders on Kilimanjaro were the heart of my film. Even on the page, my Aunts’ stories are arresting. Now these transcripts will form the foundation of my next piece…

 

4/20/18 – As an encaustic artist, it’s rare that I can work on an art piece outside my studio. so I’m relishing being able to ink the shredded paper wherever I please. Especially on a day like today when I’m feeling pretty lousy, I can binge watch Theaster Gates & Andy Goldsworthy docs while reclining on our sofa, wrapped in a cozy blanket and sipping coffee.

 

4/20/18 – End of Day 3…inking each piece by hand is a slow and meditative process. 7 hours straight today. Time to switch gears and walk the dog!

 

FAST FORWARD TO 2019…

2/14/19 – …and now, for something completely different!! Spent the past 2hrs cleaning the studio, getting ready to work with encaustic, paper, wire and fabric. Won’t have anything finished to show for the next few weeks…but i’ll be posting detail shots of this piece in progress. (just for the record, i have Absolutely No Idea where this is going. i’m just committing to experimenting with 3D play.) 🙂

 

 

2/14/19 – The motif of yesterday’s painting of chain links takes root as I finally find a use for the shredded transcripts of family interviews that I inked last year.  While I don’t have much experience constructing dimensional pieces–I do remember making paper chains in grade school…

 

2/15/19 – Spending all day making encaustic paper chains out of shredded family transcripts. 5hrs down, 4hrs to go…

 

2/21/19 – I started the day making strands of orange & red, but then decided to limit my palette to colors of the Tanzanian flag — fitting since these paper chains are made from shredded transcripts of interviews with the Tanzanian side of my family. So now I’m focusing my efforts on blues, greens, yellows. Onward!

 

2/25/19 – All day, today & tomorrow, I’ll be 1) coating transcript strips with encaustic medium on the hot plate to 2) make links, then 3) gluing them into chains. Podcast playlist is packed, headphones are fully charged. Here we go…♡

3/1/19 – Much gratitude and love to my friend Connie for coming over this morning to help me create an alginate mold of my face.

 

3/1/19 – Been obsessively scraping and cleaning up this piece with my pottery & dental tools for 4 hours straight. SO satisfying! But it’s time to step away, and return with fresh eyes tomorrow to check out my handiwork in the light of day…

 

3/4/19 – As I experiment with making an encaustic cast of my face, I’m struck by how much the wax-filled mold looks like an oyster shell…🌊

 

3/5/19 – Turned out, and cleaned up, the encaustic cast of my face. The verdict is still out re: how I feel about it. It’s getting a bit weird (and eerie), having disembodied faces on my work table. Here’s hoping I can turn them into something beautiful!

 

I made this short video about the “source material” for these paper chains – shredded transcripts of the family stories I gathered while filming on Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2003.

 

3/19/19 – Working on the bottom half of my dimensional encaustic piece today — arranging the wax/paper chain in (what I hope will be) an ascending spiral!🤞🏽

 

3/26/19 – Spending the day weaving twigs to form the interior walls of the Chagga hut that will surround the wax mask…♡ Wood up top, paper below.

 

3/28/19 – Yesterday was a “2steps forward/1step back” kind of day. This is the challenge and the thrill of #LearningByDoing . Even tho I had to undo a lot of my work, no effort was lost. Each go-around leaves a trace of story that will be seen and felt in the final piece. Every turn is worth the effort.

 

3/28/2019 – #TBT2004 to filming in my father’s Chagga hut on Mt. Kilimanjaro. Fast forward 15 years, different medium, same story (exploring my cultural inheritance and legacy). Spent today finishing the woodwork that, for me, is reminiscent of the interior of our hut.♡

 

3/29/19 – The Stories We Inherit (72″x 12″x 11″) – Wax, wood, wire, and paper. Calling this piece done…for now…at least in its current iteration. You know how it goes.

 

9elephants

Art, Exhibition, Narrative, Origin story, Story, Works In Progress

Backstory:  Twenty years ago, I was reeling from the upheaval of my Saturn returns. So I rented a beach cabin and spent 4 days in silent meditation, writing about what values I wanted to guide my life choices.

photo by Zorn B. Taylor

I came away from that retreat having whittled my list down to nine values…values that my spirit animal exemplifies. I got a tattoo of 9elephants as a reminder of the Being I aspired to be.

The theme of 9elephants has since informed my activism and filmmaking. It’s the name of my production company. These values formed the cornerstone of our wedding vows 16 years ago, and the foundation of my parenting principles 11 years ago. And so I suppose it was just a matter of time before this recurring theme manifested in art form…

 

5/8/18 – Starting my new biggie piece (36″²) while watching Hari Kondabolu’s Netflix special that dropped today!!! Wood glue burn of my Chagga nickname written in Korean — which will hint at land masses in the final piece. The paint palette will simply be the colors of the Tanzanian flag.  And so it begins, again…

 

5/8/18 – End of Day 1: I’ve been having WAY too much fun painting a background watercolor.  Most of this will be obscured when this is all done. But I am a big believer that all the energy, attention and intention I pour into each layer will be felt in the final piece. The beauty is in the making…

 

 5/12/18 – Saturday morning, added layers of encaustic and oils to this Biggie piece today. Reminds me of Tanzanian kitenge cloth.

 

5/18/18 – After putting this painting in Time Out for a week, I had a huge AHA! moment while writing this morning. My way forward with piece suddenly became clear. And now, instead of playing hookie today like I’d planned, I am completely Obsessed with bringing my vision to life!!! Folks who’ve known me a while can probably see where this piece is going…

 

5/18/18 – Looong day laying down the first layer of oils&cold wax over the encaustic mixed media base. Will take the weekend to let this piece set while I get to know these guys.

 

5/28/18 – Gilded my elephants in gold today. The diffuse light from our cloudy Seattle sky is just what these guys needed to bring out their bling 🙂

My Life in 24 Frames – Press release

Activism, Art, Exhibition, Narrative, Speaking, Story

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 15, 2018
Contact: Eliaichi Kimaro
Email: ekimaro@9elephants.org
Phone: 206.779.2653

 

MY LIFE IN 24 FRAMES

PopUp Exhibit & Artist Talk explores being a queer, mixed-race, Black-skinned daughter of immigrants in today’s America

Seattle, WA – Local artist, Eliaichi Kimaro will be presenting the latest paintings in her encaustic mixed media series, “My Life in 24 Frames” on Tuesday, October 23 from 6-7:30pm at Columbia City Gallery. At 6:30pm, there will be a brief talk where the artist will share the inspiration behind these paintings.

“My Life in 24 Frames examines what it means to be living in my skin, in my body, in this country, at this moment in time…”
~Eliaichi Kimaro

Eliaichi has lectured around the world, engaging audiences in conversations about how our experiences of gender, culture, and trauma shape our sense of identity and belonging. Eliaichi uses every media necessary to explore the stories she has inherited, and the stories she is passing down; and her creations invite us all to consider where we stand in the flow of cultural inheritance and legacy. Over the years, her lens has shifted — from her father’s Tanzanian/Chagga culture (in her 2011 film, A Lot Like You) to her mother’s Korean culture (in her 2017 multi-media installation, The Truth Has No Borders), and now to her own US culture with My Life in 24 Frames.

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A Lot Like You won 6 Best Documentary Awards. The journey of her film culminated in her TEDxSeattle talk, Why The World Needs Your Story. Last year, Eliaichi was the Artist-in-Residence for COCA’s Storefronts [UN]Contained Residency, and in 2018, she was the recipient of the Artist Trust Fellowship, the CityArtist Grant through Seattle’s Office of Arts & Culture, and a scholarship from the International Encaustic Association.

Eliaichi has served on numerous non-profit Boards, art grant panels, film festival juries, museum exhibition planning committees, and advisory committees. She is a member artist at Columbia City Gallery and the Center on Contemporary Art Gallery, and a juried member of the City of Seattle’s Ethnic Artist Roster.

“My Life in 24 Frames”
Columbia City Gallery
4864 Rainier Ave. S.,
Seattle, WA 98118
Tuesday, October 23, 2018, 6-7:30pm
6-7:30: Public exhibit of new paintings
6:30: Artist Talk

EVENT IS FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Eliaichi Kimaro (https://elikimaro.com/) is an award-winning filmmaker and artist who finds beauty in the rusty, weathered and worn. She loves the stories that scars hold ~ and feels compelled to take those stories of struggle, resistance, and survival, and turn them into something beautiful to behold.

This project is made possible thanks to the generous support of the
2018 CityArtist Grant from Seattle’s Office of Arts & Culture.


# # #

Upcoming exhibit & talk

Art, Exhibition, Narrative, Speaking, Story

Please join me for this public pop-up exhibit of my series, “My Life in 24 Frames.”

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The most recent eight paintings in this series (created this year) explore how our humanity ~ our well-being and our suffering ~ is inextricably linked. Who we are, and how we live on this Earth, matters. Our death sustains and enables new life. And generations, like tides, continue to build on what came before.

Water is Life. Life is breath. Death births Life. Everything is Connected.

The Artist Talk will start at 6:30. I will share the inspiration and the stories behind these paintings, and then see where the conversation goes from there…

Eliaichi Kimaro
CityArtist Grant – Public Exhibit and Artist Talk

“MY LIFE IN 24 FRAMES”
Tuesday Oct. 23 from 6-7:30pm
Columbia City Gallery
4864 Rainier Ave S., Seattle 98118

This project was made possible in part with the generous support of the 2017 CityArtist Grant from Seattle’s Office of Arts & Culture.

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2018 Artist Trust Fellowship

Activism, Art, Exhibition, family, Film, Installation, Narrative, Story

So excited to share this news with you!!!!

It was just announced that I am one of 16 recipients of the 2018 Artist Trust Fellowship ~ “an unrestricted grant program that awards $7,500 to practicing professional artists of exceptional talent and ability.” (You can read the full press release here.)  I am in awe of all that Artist Trust does to support the arts and artists across Washington state!  And I am grateful to the Jurors for their time and thoughtful deliberation — and for their kind consideration of my application.  Having served on numerous film festival and grant juries, I’m aware what a time and energy commitment it is to review and deliberate over hundreds of submissions…

This news has me Standing Taller and Breathing Deeper.  With this generous Fellowship, I will finally have the time and resources to complete the ambitious project I started during my COCA residency last year.  The Truth Has No Borders is a multi-media installation that integrates 40 years exploring my family narrative through writing, music, film and art.

And finally, a Huge congrats to my fellow Fellows! I am deeply honored to be in the company of so much Excellence.

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Pictured Left to Right/Top to Bottom:  Tariqa Waters, Barbara Sternberger, Taiji Miyasaka, Christopher Paul Jordan, Ryan Feddersen, Haruko Nishimura, Jade Solomon Curtis, Salome MC, Grace Love, Christopher Icasiano, Eliaichi Kimaro*, Tessa Hulls, Diana Xin, Mattilda B. Sycamore, Laura Da’, and Cathy Linh Che. *A warm thank you to Zorn B Taylor for my beautiful headshot.

 

EMERGE: The Journey is Everything

Activism, Art, Exhibition, Narrative, Speaking, Story
Emerge

Emerge: The Journey is Everything

For me, the journey is everything.  I am far more interested in the process of becoming than I am in the final state of being.  The journey is dynamic, energetic – constantly evolving, transforming and expanding.  While creating, I exist in a suspended state of not-knowing.  I open myself up to what my painting is showing me, and then intuitively respond to it. This dialogue of discovery is what I crave.

As a self-taught artist and creative storyteller, I am constantly reinventing myself, learning whatever medium it takes to tell the story that is emerging.  Over the past 40 years, I have used writing, music, photography, film, storytelling, and now encaustics to explore my personal/family narrative.

The paintings in this show hang together loosely.  They demonstrate new directions I am exploring in my work (using mark-making, texture, and organic materials to tell a story.)  Some of these pieces came into being fully-formed.  Some were labors of love, with 2-3 completely different paintings living beneath the surface.  And still others have yet to find their final form.

While I am in love with the current incarnation of these paintings, I know some will be radically transformed when they return to my studio – melted, scraped down, carved into, painted over.  But as a lover of process, I believe that even our evolving selves deserve an occasional spotlight…to be seen, witnessed and lovingly considered in our current form.

The EMERGE show at the Columbia City Gallery (Seattle) is currently exhibiting through Sunday, May 13. 

The most consistent comment I’m hearing about this body of work is that these are pieces that need to be seen live and up close.  So if you’re in the Columbia City neighborhood, please stop by!  (Gallery hours: Wed-Sun, 11-7).

The trouble with labels…

Art, Narrative, Story

Going Nowhere – 28×36 Oil painting (2018)

It has taken me a long time to figure out why I have always resisted other people’s labels that defined who I am based on what I was creating.  My reluctance to be called a violinist, filmmaker, photographer, artist has been misinterpreted as false modesty or insecurity.

But each of these labels felt limiting in their own way.  They came loaded with expectations and baggage that was not my own, and had nothing to do with my intentions/goals for the work I was creating.  And if you’ve known me for any period of time, you know that my creative expression is dynamic, fluid, constantly evolving…

That said, I also realize that I am not above labeling.  If you look on this website, you will find no shortage of labels I have used to define my self, and the lens I bring to the world.  As humans, we are compelled to label and categorize because it helps us organize and make sense of our world–for better or worse.  And so, as long as we have to contend with labels, here are some that more accurately reflect my truth at this moment in time:

I am a restless, curious, creative storyteller.  And I will learn whatever medium it takes to tell the story that is emerging.  The joy of being self-taught is that I am free to follow my inspiration, to be a perpetual student, and to learn by doing.

I am a writer.  I have been writing daily in my journal for the past 40 years.  Writing makes my subconscious conscious—it is my key to unlocking my stories of cultural inheritance and legacy. Then art (in its myriad of forms) is how I make meaning of the narratives that my writing has unearthed.

I am an activist. This is the lens I bring to all aspects of my life.  My activism informs my art.  My art infuses my activism.  It is my way in the world, to personalize the political…and to politicize the personal.

And, above all else (or at the root of it all), I am a mother.

Borders – 24×36 oil painting (2018)