Megan Kimber


Megan Kimber, Timeless Treasures

by Brett Levine     Photo by Jerry Siegel

For Megan Kimber, technique is a tool.  She uses it to explore painting, illustration, jewelry making or whatever creative outlet she is focusing on at the moment.  “I’ve been drawing and painting ever since I was a child,” she explains, “but I used my graduate school education at Savannah College of Art and Design to really refine my techniques and to work obsessively on my art!”

This commitment to the process of making works is evident in her ongoing quest to refine her paintings and drawings. “I have a tendency to be a perfectionist,” she laughs, “but I try to use that focus as a means to be sure that I am always challenging myself to be better.” Two and a half years ago Kimber took this personal challenge by shifting from painting to working predominantly in pen and ink. “I have always been interested in historical portraiture,” she explains, “and I wanted to be able to translate the qualities of those images to paintings or drawings. I began to think about the ways that drawing could capture the depths and emotions of early photography, so I began to focus more and more on pen and ink as a method of reinterpreting tintypes or daguerreotypes in a modern way.”

Her childhood love of viewing things through a microscope also emerged in her fascination with transforming what she had seen in the natural world on a very intimate level into something unexpected in a painting or drawing. “Perhaps the easiest way to explain it would be to say that at times a particular visual memory I have appears as a pattern that makes up a hill in the background. Somehow,” she continues, “that memory of the microscopic sneaks into the work in unusual ways.”

Kimber is probably best known for her fantastical realist images of the figure. “I painted a series where the subjects all had their eyes closed,” she remarks. “I had hoped the works would convey that particular peacefulness we all have when we sleep, and that contradiction between sleeping and waking that some people have.” She regards the opportunity to explore the core of the human condition as being a significant artistic opportunity. “I think at times people have described my work as creepy, or sad, or moody, or depressed,” she laughs. “I think that if we are to be honest as artists, we have to understand that if we really want to get to the core of a shared human experience we have to accept that emotions can be raw, or that sometimes we need to explore the depths of ourselves.” Recently, she learned how deeply this connection could be. “I think one of the amazing aspects of working as a contemporary artist is that our works have a far wider reach than we ever imagine,” Kimber observes. “I was recently contacted by a woman who had lost her daughter who had been deeply moved by seeing my works. For her,” she continues, “what the work symbolized was hope. Somehow, despite what seems to some people to be a melancholy or dark subject, my works had reminded this woman of her daughter and made her happy.”

More recently, Kimber has begun to create crocheted jewelry as well as her pen and ink works. “I have always been fascinated by fiber art,” she explains, “so I began crocheting a few years ago. Initially it was just for myself, but when people saw some of the works I was wearing I began to be asked if I could make more pieces.” Drawing inspiration from nineteenth century imagery, patterns and fabrics, and coupling this with contemporary colorways, she began to create a series of pieces that were uniquely her own.  “I have always seen jewelry or other forms of body adornment as almost being ceremonial,” she explains. “I think that we use ornamentation as a method of documenting particular periods in our lives, and that these objects tie in directly with the ways we engage with our time, our culture and our folklore.”

Commercially, Kimber has found success working in non-traditional ways and with non-traditional media. “Apart from traditional media and two or three dimensional work, I’ve also been commissioned to create some skateboard decks. It is almost as if my work straddles that fine line between the artistic, the commercial and the street.”

What remains most important for Kimber is that her works have the capacity to engage with her audiences. “I would really hope that people can connect with my work, even if it reminds them of challenging times of their lives,” she smiles. “I’d like to think that my work contributes to the dialogues surrounding the complexity of all our lives, and despite any assertions to the contrary, we experience a broad spectrum of emotions and a wide range of ideas about beauty. It isn’t always simple to accept this, but I hope my art can help people understand that it is okay to feel these ways.”

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