Category Archives: About the Work

All my Ancestors were Immigrants.

All my ancestors were immigrants. In fact I would not exist if they had not immigrated. My grandmother would not have met my grandfather here in Canada if she stay in the Ukraine. 

Simple as that.

Kim Henigman Bruce - Merged

“Merged”  now resides in the home of a judge.

I have always been proud that my mom’s mom (featured in this portrait) came to Canada alone when she was 26 and could not speak any english.

I often wondered why at 26 she was not married and what if anything happened that made her make such a journey. But we did not ask those questions growing up, it just wasn’t done.

My grandfather on my mom’s side immigrated from the Ukraine as well. They met in Drumheller where my mom and uncle were born and raised. It’s one of the reasons I was happy to have had the show “How I Got Here” at the Western GM Drumheller Gallery. I think my grandma would have been proud.

I think of this image of my grandmother today because I used her passport photo to create the piece. This piece was purchased a couple of years ago by a judge, which I find ironic considering the current ban on immigration put in place by the Trump administration in the USA. 

 

 

 

How I Got Here

Exhibition Notes: How I Got Here
January 5 – 28, 2016
Western GM Drumheller Gallery
80 Veterans Way
Drumheller, AB
Phone 403-823-1371

It was very exciting to be offered the Drumheller Library Gallery to exhibit book sculptures from my Disbound proposal. Working with books has found a home with me and to be able to exhibit them in a library setting is extra special. The gallery is a beautiful space but the hanging system wouldn’t work to show my wall mounted book sculptures. So rather than forego the opportunity to exhibit, Janet, the library representative, worked with me to come up with alternative work that was compatible with the hanging system.

We all go through life in a progressive way, one step leading to another. This progression is very true for an art practice. One thing always leads to another, we learn and apply and move forward. Looking back on my work from the last 15 years I started to see how I got here, and it occurred to me that perhaps a retrospective was in order.

Having this exhibit in Drumheller is particularly fitting and special because Drumheller is where my grandmother and grandfather, who immigrated separately, met and settled. It’s also where my mom and uncle were born and raised. When my grandfather died of black lung from working in the coal mine in Newcastle, my grandmother moved the family to Calgary.

Woman's Work, 2010 Encaustic, false Hair on board 20" x 30" (22.75" x 32.75" Framed)

Woman’s Work, 2010
Encaustic, false Hair on board
20″ x 30″ (22.75″ x 32.75″ Framed)

They say all art is autobiographical and on some level I find the work I’m presenting here to be almost overtly self referential.  Starting with Family of Four which is a portrait of my maternal grandmother and then my mom in Being Thirteen. I comment on my exposure to religion in Class of 64, Saves 9, and Pegged. My experiences with being an entrepreneur since the 80’s is reflected in Glass Ceiling and Woman’s Work. And I make comments on the traditional roles of women in What Became and Casting the Net.

Even though this work reflects my life it also speaks to and for others who have shared similar experiences. That is what I believe is important about art; it’s a voice that conveys a message that not only helps people to feel that they are not alone, but one that speaks for those that have no voice. I am drawn to subjective statements and open-ended interpretation which allows others to bring their own experiences to my artwork.

Just Me, encaustic medium, just and found object on a book, 5.5" x 4" x 5.25" © Kim Bruce

Just Me, encaustic medium, just and found object on a book, 5.5″ x 4″ x 5.25″ © Kim Bruce

Understanding my past has enabled me to follow my voice to my current work with books. I use books as my canvas because books are knowledge and knowledge empowers. My books are unbound and immersed in hot beeswax. In this state I am able to distort and manipulate the shapes and seal the books shut. This closing off of the books is symbolic of education being denied to girls, and boys too, but mostly girls.

On a whole my work is full of visual puns, double entendre, symbolism and satire. It references the dichotomy of my early life expectations to conform to a traditional woman’s role, when in fact, reality for me, was the need to be self-sufficient and support myself as an entrepreneur and business owner. These contradictions allow me to expose my private self through veiled metaphor creating objects significant beyond function. The underlying message – the essence of my work – speaks to the roles and rights of girls and women.

About Open Book

Open Book is a reflection of two things;  my love of anything old, the central vertical line that is prevalent in a lot of my work and books. I guess that’s three things.

I grew up with books, my Mom was / is an avid reader and since I can remember books have always been apart of my environment. It is hard to articulate what I find so fascinating about books. The story, the words bound into a container, compartmentalized, a world of it’s own bearing no external influences.  Old books with their bumps and bruises, still around after all these years with their story still intact. Never changing. Solid and sure in their identity.

More often than not when I start a new body of work I become prolific. One thing leads to another, momentum builds and I couldn’t stop even if I wanted to.

The pieces in Open Book are the actual size of a book.  The book cover pieces where made from alpha mat mounted on to board. The spine was whetted and fastened over a form and left to dry. After which I applied encasutic and oil. Oh and I added some string to the spine to create the ridges. I carved in the text with a scribe and highlighted it with gold oil paint.  You can’t see it in the image to the left but the “book cover” lifts just a bit around the edge to reveal a book page underneath.

Other pieces in the series take a more stylized approach where I emulate the interior of the book by using book pages and merge them with encasutic, oil and found objects. It is like old books meet old Victorian pealing wallpaper.

My work gets stronger when it relates to like pieces. They feed off each other computationally and keeps the eye interested.  I approach each piece as an individual work but like I said earlier; one thing leads to another as I explore a theme and all of a sudden a polyptych is born.

I am currently selling some of this work and donating the proceeds to girls’ education.

Please buy a book to support education for girls.

How My Dad Influenced My Art Practice.

My father has had a great influence on my life like most parents. He taught me a work ethic that lead to self employment at an early age, I was 26. But more than that he influenced how I look at the world and interpret that with my unique visual language. This is how my dad influenced my art practice.

Alan David Henigman was born in Saskatoon in 1928. He settled in Calgary in the 1950’s and bought a lot in the community of Millican Ogden in the south east. The land already had the foundation of a house and that’s it.

Not being wealthy man and no house plans he did his own design build. The story goes that he would purchase building materials pay cheque to pay cheque. He would problem solve as he went along.

Being an appliance repair man for General Electric, he also moonlighted by reconditioning old washers, dryers, fridges, and the like.  His work shop was in the basement and attached garage and he was always picking up broken appliances to fix and resell. Word spread because his repairs lasted. What he couldn’t fix he recycled, used for parts or as my list below mentions, repurposed.

Some of my favourite examples of his repurposing are…

  • Using copper tubing, more than likely left over from the plumbing, for the kitchen cupboard pulls.
  • Salvaging and using old oven doors from his appliance repairs and construction a window for our back porch.
  • The ceiling in the living room was a wood vaulted ceiling made from salvaged wood doors.
  • The towel rack in the bathroom was a salvaged oven door pull.
  • The front stairs to our home was a design of his own and he constructed and pored the concrete himself.
  • Not having enough siding to complete the length of the front porch railing he cut a detail to finish the shortage.
our-house-me-dad

My Dad and me at the BBQ slash fire pit he designed and built in the 60’s well before it was fashionable to have an outdoor cookery.

My Dad is the very definition of “function before form”. The most important thing to him was that it work.  The ascetic of our home was my Mother’s territory. My Dad taught me to look at my surroundings and the objects in it with new eyes. It’s not just a piece of copper tubing, it’s a door pull. It not just a window for an oven door, it’s actually a window for anything.

So when you see objects used in my work now you know why.

Do you have an unsung person that influenced your art? Who was it and how did they influence you?

I gratefully acknowledge Ann Hart Marquis who interviewed me about my work and really got me thinking. As a result this blog post was born. Thank You Ann for making me think.

Why I Chose to Support Education for Girls

I am a reluctant feminist mainly because I don’t think there should be such a thing. I have always considered myself and everyone else as people first. Gender never really enters the equation, at least not for me. The word feminist to me means believing that all people to be people is not a natural state.

I am a product of the 50’s and grew up at the height of the women’s movement. Did I participate, no, not really.

What I did do is make my own way. I became self employed at the age of 26. I owned a design firm for nearly 20 years and employed up to 12 people. When my passion for art could no longer be ignored, I sold my firm to pursue my art full time.

When I realized that I needed a website, well, I learnt how to do that. Now I have a thriving online business where I help other artists create an online presence. My point…

I had choices

With the advent of the internet and coaches like ArtbizCoach.com, there is help for the artist entrepreneur who wants to develop marketing skills and take control of their careers.

Artists now have choices

Hassani_Shamsia_Banksy

Shamsia Hassani, ‘Dreaming Graffiti with Banksy’, 2012. Image courtesy the artist.
Shamsia Hassani, Afghanistan’s first female street artist, emerges as a spokesperson for women’s rights in Kabul.

Since I have the internet and a choice, I have an idea.

Here’s the idea

Since the fundamental component of all my series revolves around women’s issues I would like to see my work help those that need it the most.

story_malala_ys

Malala Yousafzai was shot when returning from school for going to school. She survived

I was lucky, I had a college education, I was able to chose. I can not for one minute imagine NOT HAVING A CHOICE!

But there are so many girls (and boys too), but mostly girls, that due to tradition or religion don’t get to chose. They are married off as soon as they hit puberty and are often left having to fend for themselves and their children because of war, strife or circumstance.

As much as I would prefer to live with my ideals; gender inequality exists. It exists in Canada, the USA, throughout the western world and as that fight continues there are still girls, children, in developing nations that may never have the same choices that we have.

I believe in choice.

Since I have a choice, I choose to:
SUPPORT EDUCATION FOR GIRLS.
The Girl Effect

To facilitate this I have created an online shop to sell work from the “Open Book” series. This series speaks specifically to the education for girls movement.

With your generous purchase of my art, I am able to donate to Education for Girls charities.

Why am I doing this?

Because I have a choice, so I choose to Support Education of Girls then maybe someday they too will have a choice.

Please contact me if you have any questions. 

View the work and Donate, Shop, Support

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#artist donates to #educationforgirls for every piece sold @ArtbizKimBruce Click to Tweet

Altered Books

I am a great lover of books both for their content and their aesthetics. Books have been around me for my entire life. My Mother is a big reader and has custom built book shelves in her home.

I daydream about writing a book although I’m not sure what that looks like in words. Mine is a visual language.

Books provide knowledge and ideas, but what if you could not access that knowledge. What if it was taken away? No you can’t turn to the internet that is not what this is about.

These altered books act as my canvas and present themselves as the keepers of knowledge. Vaults. Unreachable. Inaccessible.

View the book series

kim-bruce_curciform

Cruciform

Taking a number of the same pieces that were used in the “In Line” installation this arrangement resembles a cruciform. I will be showing this installation at my exhibit “Off the Wall” at the VAAA Gallery where I plan on taking some photographs so you can see it in scale.  The install is 62″ x 62″ x4″ but I may add one more piece on the left and the bottom to make it more cruciform like but will make that call when we install on Thursday.

Working with Hair

womans_-work_rev-noframe

If you read my post about my work with Pins & Needles you will probably appreciate my work with hair.

I work with fine false wig hair as opposed to actual human hair for a couple of reasons. First I think that human hair should be donated to create wigs for people who have lost theirs due to cancer treatments. And secondly people are relieved when I tell them that it is false hair and not the real thing.

Our societies views on hair when not actually attached to our heads is one of disgust? Gross? I’m not sure when the change of view happen. It used to be in Victorian times a more precious thing.  A lock of your loves hair was special and there were many fine objects created from hair; weaved into brooches and lockets and the like.

In my work with hair I juxtapose elements to create conceptual statements regarding vanity, fashion, feminism and religion. You can find some pins & needles in the 3 Hail Mary’s.

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In Line

Carrying on with the use of every day containers to cast in I created a new polyptych called In Line.  In this piece I used a martini glass with a rolled piece of bond paper as a barrier between the glass and the wax which also acted as my release agent.  It was a bit tricky to get the paper to take the shape of the glass and maintain a cylindrical shape so that the final casting was 4 1/2″ dia and not irregular. Trial and error.

These pieces are solid wax mounted on to a 4 1/2″ dia wood base and wall hung. Originally I was trying to cast hollow to reduce the expense of using so much wax. In the end I realized that in order maintain the integrity and achieve the final result they had to be cast solid.