Reflect(s)

I was as honest with my passions then

as I am now.

My eyes linger over these forgotten photographs and I am brimming with varied emotions that range from intrigue, to sorrow to awe. Part of me is curious to recall my thoughts during this project. I photographed these images back in 2015, under the instruction of Suda House. Affectionately, I found her… cooky. She introduced me to the dark room, taught me the best F stops and Apertures, and gave me my first taste of applied art theory. I don’t remember what the prompt was exactly but I distinctly remember the work evolving into something of its own.

It’s relieving to see that my interests haven’t changed much; I’m still passionate about social awareness, history, and relationships. This same content is echoed throught the majority of my work. But in looking back, it is clearer to me that my visual language is native to documentary; I strive to capture the essence of human experiences.

I was general then in my looking, in my ‘seeing’ of the world, not really pointing to one thing or another, which is not always a bad thing. Some of these images are a bit vague and others are a bit ‘on-the-nose’ with obvious subject matter. Still, these photos dance to the rhythmic patter of a heavy heart. I am pained by indifference; the frequent shrug that I witness in relationships be it romantic, familial, societal. I can see quite clearly what I intended these photographs to do; strike emotion in the viewer. Joy, regret, love, sorrow… anything.

I just want people to give a fuck.

However, I often question if this ‘intention’ is motivated from my desire to relate to others in the world or a deep frustration knowing that my efforts are only a drop in an ocean. Is the subtle nudge in these photos actually the result of a muffled shrill that I am silencing internally? I can’t help but notice a reccuring theme in my work: I am drawn to histories of the unacknowledged. The stories of the overlooked. Forgotten legacies that lie beneath the surface of politics, power struggles, and self-serving narratives. Just one of these topics alone is enough to keep me up all night. Nevertheless, I will take confidence in the motivation I’ve found from uncovering these images. I was as honest with my passions then as I am now.

What are you passionate about? How have your passions have changed or remained the same? Leave a comment if you found these photos impactful.

All the best,

Kimberly

arches

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Of Days, 2019

Of Days, 2019, 68″ x 217″ inches, Graphite on canvas

I struggle finding the words to talk about this piece. Not because I lack any, but rather that I have too many. To sum it as best I can, it is a compression of ancient and contemporary African experiences. More on this topic in a future post but I am noticing a trend that I unknowingly created for myself; capturing moments in time.

This drawing is an attempt to capture the past and the present in one panoramic frame. Through appropriation and collage, I have knitted what I hope conveys the moving stillness that is African and African American culture. Over decades (even centuries) traditions of dance and celebration are still valued and practiced in both cultures even today.

Time is an intricate concept and I’ve had a particularly difficult time drawing it. It is elusive, but ever-present, a guiding force in our daily lives that is the framework upon which we build our economies and relationships. We spend the majority of our days chasing it and our last breaths begging for more. I believe time has a life of its own, one that, if we are lucky, we catch a glimpse of in awe.

I hoped to capture that rare moment of awe in this piece; To allow the majestic essences of history and ancient traditions to transition fluidly between fragments of the here and now.

UCSD Senior Art Crawl: Honors Thesis & Here/After 2019

In closing my undergraduate education at the University of California, San Diego my Studio Honors Cohort exhibited our Thesis projects in a group showing at the Adam D. Kamil Gallery. Our opening reception was June 4th, 2019.

Simultaneously, the opening reception for the 2019 Visual Arts Senior Class Exhibition was on June 4th, 2019.

It was amazing.

If you weren’t able to make it to the openings, or if you were and just want to reminisce, here are a few photos from both openings.

Here/After at UCSD University Art Gallery

A collection of work by the 2019 undergraduate seniors is currently being exhibited and a recent pics of mine is on display. If you have time and will be in La Jolla, CA between May 28 and June 16, 2019 be sure to stop by and check out the show. I’d love to see you there!

For more information, use the Facebook events link here.

Honors Thesis Exhibiton

I am proud to annouce that I will soon be a graduate of the UCSD Visual Art: Studio Honors 2019 Cohort. Our group thesis exhibiton will open on Tuesday, June 4th with an opening reception from 5:00pm to 7:00pm.

Admission is FREE and refreshments will be served in appreciation for guest attendance. Come and support San Diego’s budding studio artists!

For more information, use the Facebook Events link here.

Snitch, Solo Exhibition April 2019

Adam Kamil Gallery, La Jolla, CA

La Jolla, CA, 92093

April 2 – 4, 2019, 1:00pm – 4:00pm

Opening Reception April 2, 5:00pm – 7:00pm

Reviews from the exhibition are rolling in and it is honestly humbling to hear the comments made about the work. In case you weren’t able to attend, here a few photos from the exhibition!

 

Adam Kamil Gallery, La Jolla, CA

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Adam Kamil Gallery, UCSD

La Jolla, CA, 92093

April 2 – 4, 2019, 1:00pm – 4:00pm

Opening Reception April 2, 5:00pm – 7:00pm

Free & Open to the Public

Snitch is an exhibition of drawings that investigates the social dynamics of religion and power in America and their effect on African American women. Power is an ever-present issue for black women in areas of sexuality, bodily autonomy, and self advocacy. African Americans are a predominantly Christian group and, with much of their cultural value being built upon religious belief, many systems of misogyny and patriarchy are still upheld. However, with great efforts, many African American women are working to dismantle the social systems that perpetuate oppressive and repressive norms by examining the sources of these culturally accepted ideologies. This exhibition intends to aid in that effort.

Africann American women have been the initiators of social justice movements like #MeToo, Womanist, and the Feminist Suffrage but have historically been the smallest beneficiaries. On average, church populations in predominantly African American communities are female, yet few churches allow for women to be primary church leaders leaving positions of power male dominated. Commonly, African American women are active participants in their communities, churches, and neighborhoods. Referred to as “Super Women” as they are seen to be able to “do it all” and are often the matriarchs of their families, bearing both the role of breadwinner and homemaker. Recent studies show that the stress endured by African American females has been the leading cause of heart disease, miscarriages, and psychological disorders. The strength of the African American female has been misrepresented as hypersexual, aggressive, and violent in attempts to justify heinous acts of violence against them. These socially discriminative perceptions have been linked to a high number of cases of maternal mortality, medical misdiagnosis, and premature death.

Using a variety of materials, this collection of drawing aims to find the connection between religion, power, and the African American Female, in hopes to uncover the causes of the aforementioned disparities. These drawings are graphite on black illustration board, with metallic highlights of gold and silver that illuminate various depictions within the space. The figures are stretched to extremes capturing cinematic frames of dynamic gesture. The content alludes to areas of life that are sacred for many, taboo for some, but necessary for all, raising questions of existentialism, spirituality, and sexuality.

Kimberly R. Heard is a draftsman currently living and studying in San Diego, CA. Kimberly is native Californian who lived in Birmingham, AL during her adolescence and early adulthood. Her work aims to decipher the learned from the intuitive; to understand the complexities of the African American existence and investigate the social politics that surround the black experience. Identifying as both Christian and an African American woman, the artist perceived herself as a ‘snitch’, dispelling cultural truths that would otherwise not be publicly addressed.

“There is a black which is old and a black which is fresh. Lustrous black and dull black, black in sunlight and black in shadow”

Ad Reinhardt

For the past year I have been working on a collection of drawings for my own solo exhibition this spring. The official publications will follow sometime after this post but I thought a sentimental explanation of the concept would be fun.

While working on my comic series Cypress Tales in July, I developed a fondness for the India ink I’d been using for the illustrations. The contrast between the white of the mixed media paper and the black pigment in this ink was striking to me. Intimidating to an extent. I finished the first installment of the comic and was left with the India ink, some sharpies, and micron pens. My wheels turned over a way that I could use these black materials together. What would it mean to work black on black? I eventually expanded the idea to encompass not only mark making tools but the surfaces I could use that were black, and what it could mean conceptually; to use a black material to make a black mark on a black surface. An endless void of blackness.

In “Black as Symbol and Concept,” Ad Reinhardt  said, “There is a black which is old and a black which is fresh. Lustrous black and dull black, black in sunlight and black in shadow”. I think of this when look at the work in this exhibition, the idea of ‘blackness as a symbol and a concept’ on display in MOMA, Guggenheim, and other museums around the globe. I thought of the many shades on shelves labeled ‘black’, all singular variations of the same semiotic referent. Impressive how five symbols carry such loaded meaning, narrative, and policy. Blackness has been policed globally for centuries, so much that many black communities now police themselves, holding each other to behavioral guidelines that carry more weight than many can bear.

“…Because there are unspoken guidelines to your Blackness; there are penalties and consequences for stepping outside of the regulations preset long ago by elders who were finding their way between busing and lynchings, pork fat grease, ham hocks, and cotton bale finger pricks. To defy these laws is to defy yourself, to defy your people. Yes, your people. You are kin, even if you have not chosen to be. You will speak, must speak, to the soul and spirit of all those who share the complexion of you, the complexities of you…” – Joel Leon

I thought “What kinda black am I?” Am I a black that is old? Fresh? Lustrous or dull? I don’t know, yet. This exhibition of drawings journal my contentious relationship with blackness as well as the social, cultural, and political systems that contribute to my identifying with it. If you find yourself in San Diego, CA during April 1-5, 2019, stop by the Adam Kamil Gallery and view the exhibition. I’d love to see you there.


https://www.thsppl.com/thsppl-articles/2017/4/25/what-kind-of-black-are-you

Black as Symbol and Concept,” in Barbara Rose, Art-as-Art: The Selected Writings of Ad Reinhardt (New York: University of California Press, 1953), 86.

Ghana 2018

“I recently traveled to Ghana”. This may sound insignificant, rather irrelevant to most, and to be fair it is. Most of the responses I’ve received have been one of the following two: “Where is Ghana?” and “What made you choose to travel there?”.

Aside from meeting my partner’s immediate family in person, there actually wasn’t much of a motive behind it. I had traveled to the UK over the previous holiday season and could hardly contain my excitement. Hell, my grandmother even cried when I told her I’d booked my flight. Her response was “I’m so proud of you!” and honestly I was proud of myself too. While I was there, I spent a lot of my time in museums that contained artwork I had only dreamed of seeing in person. I marveled at them and stood awkwardly with glee as I begged my partner to “Take my picture! Take my picture!”. He obliged and watched curiously as I carried on.

When I returned to the states, I felt established. I walked with my shoulders back and my head high, secretly wishing someone would ask about my holiday endeavors so that I could feign humility when I told them “oh, not much just a couple weeks in London”. London. As if saying it aloud produced some tangible form of prestige that I could cloak myself in. I was sick of myself, truthfully, but I couldn’t help it. I was finally ‘in’ on the secret and now all the cultural references from my favorite show like Friends, and ‘Gossip Girl’ finally made sense. For the first time, I really understood what being cultured felt like.

Needless to say, I did not have this reaction when I arrived to the Kotoka International Airport in Accra. I remember landing from the 14 hour flight, claiming our baggage, and exiting the building into what my southern-Californian mind paralled as ‘Tijuana with Black people’. I was not in awe. I was in shock. Certainly my grandmother would not be shedding a tear of joy if she’d accompanied me on this trip. Still, something in me sparked that I hadn’t anticipated. Something I wasn’t aware I’d been missing.

Belonging.

I had never seen this dense of a body count that ALL looked like mine; ‘black’. I was not in my familiar ‘melting pot’ of cultural variety and no other ethnicity surrounded me; not Mexican, not Not Filipino, and certainly not Caucasian. Still, these unfamiliar faces represented pieces of a world that I am derived from, a place I probably would have called my home. I stood silently for a moment too long and my partner asked if I was alright. But before answered, I noticed that he appeared different. Not a different that alarmed me, but one that I had seen in myself after returning from our holiday in the UK. His shoulders were back and his head was high. He was proud. He belonged.

My Ghana trip was very different from my previous journey, in so many ways that it will take multiple entries to fully express, but it is very important that I point out a lesson I learned. Whether we are aware of it or not, being an African American is to be inherently displaced. Generation after generation, African Americans have resiliently adapted to the impositions of Western society and culture, to the extent that many of us have lost our sense what it means to the majority. There is power in numbers, especially when all of the numbers share the same roots. Our experience cannot be compared to other ethnic communities. Where other communities can find cultural asylum in returning to their their homelands it is not the same for us. Like Frankenstein, African Americans are the experiment a scientist once created for himself but now discards in fear.

With new research surfacing on epigenetics and genome alterations created by extreme long term exposure to stressors like abuse and isolation, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to draw a connection between the centuries of abandonment our forefathers and mothers endured and the alarming rates of mental and emotional disparities that plague many African American communities today.

Certainly I have more to say about this historical gem that is Ghana, but
for now I will leave it with one question: What would our lives be if we had never encountered the hand of colonization?

To be Continued…