Fine Tuning My Works Voice

I have written about this work a few times and talked about it as well. For obvious reasons, I believe the education for girls is extremely important. I have even tried to sell this work in support Because I am Girl, with limited success.  The work is timely, now, with the me too and time’s up movements,  but I find my feelings toward the 11 bodies of work in this series is changing or maybe I have become introspective.

My heart breaks for the girls who are denied education due to culture, strife or war, but I also have to understand how the work relates to my story. I need to take full ownership of my work.

Quite a few pieces in the Disbound series are actually my story. 

Henigman Bruce – 3 Hail Mary’s, Sideways, Cast Encaustic, oil, books, needles, thread, false hair and found objects, 4″w x 16″h x 4.5″d

Work like 3 Hail Mary’s which speaks to being raised in a strict, (2 of my aunts were/are nuns), Catholic household only to be told at a very young age, after the fear of god was perfectly instilled, we are not going to church any more.

Fairy Tales and Tying Knots references the princess complex. They reference 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. 

Henigman Bruce – Twin Beds, Encaustic and string on books, Diptych – 7″h (18″ o/a) x 10″w x 2″d overall

A number of pieces are demonstrative of 50’s values. Like the Twin Beds used in early TV shows and movies, because babies came from storks, don’t you know.

I believe that I use books and objects to tell my story because my love of books was a gift from my mother and the reuse and repurpose of materials and objects was a gift from my father. My parents did not have a happy marriage, but these 2 gifts are happily married in my work. That makes me happy.

Veiled Metaphor, Cast Encaustic & found objects on books, 9″h x 4″w x 4.5″d

My work has progressed or better said, has repurposed itself. I did a series back in 2009 called All in My Head. It was a series of cast encaustic heads with found objects. I had a really hard time basing the work. To the point of giving up and letting the heads simply float off the wall. Last year, and I can’t quite put my finger on how this came about, but I started combining the books with the heads. By doing so I was able to finish each of their stories. I continue to work with the heads and it has been very gratifying to be able to give each of these personable pieces their true voice.

They say that all artists’ work references themself and I have been accused of being over the top with some of my references, especially my older work. I hope this work has found a more neutral grounding. By that I mean a place where to work can be appreciated as much for its aesthetic value as for it’s message. 

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.


The Art of the Book


The Art of the Book

Seager Gray Gallery presents the 11th annual Art of the Book.

An exhibition of book-related material including fine press, hand made and altered
books featuring new works by gallery favorites as well as some exciting discoveries.

May 3 – June 5, 2016
Reception for the artists:
Saturday, May 14, 5:30 – 7:30pm

Artists included in the exhibition are Jody Alexander, Islam Aly, Alice Austin, Ken Botnick, Sarah Brown, Kim Henigman Bruce, Inge Bruggeman, Valérie Buess, Julie Chen, Marie Dern and Danielle Giudici Wallis, Alisa Golden, Andrew Hayes, Helen Hiebert, Meg Hitchcock, Charles Hobson, Lisa Kokin, Jacqueline Rush Lee, Emma Lloyd, Suzanne Long, Sharon McCartney, Emily Payne, Maria Porges, Kazuko Watanabe, Beata Wehr and Barbara Wildenboer.

Disbound – Education for Girls

Exhibition Notes: Disbound – Education for Girls
April 21 – May 27, 2016
Harcourt House
3rd Floor, 10215 – 112 Street
Edmonton, AB T5K 1M7
Phone: 780.426.4180

Books have always played a role in my life. My mom, an avid reader, passed on her love of books to me. When I touch a book and I am conscious of a world that exists only within those pages. A self contained world whose influence is in how I interpret the words. Everything we are and everything we know about the world is contained in a book somewhere. Books are precious.

I do not consider myself to be a “book artist” in the true sense. I do not create books. I am a sculptor that disassembles, deconstructs books and marries them with found objects. I play with puns, double entendre, symbolism and satire and there are so many when it comes to books. For example, the work in Jackets. Books have jackets just as jackets are articles of clothing for us. Some of the pieces where created to emulate “jackets”. Clothing is a reflection of who we are and books help shape who we are.

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My statements are subjective and have open-ended interpretation. I want the viewer to be able to bring their own experiences to the work. I want you to find meaning in my work that is significance only to you. In that way the work becomes yours, personal and intimate.

Kim Bruce- Zero- Encaustic, mixed media, 8.5"w x 7"h x 2"dThe first in my series dealing with books was called Open Book. The work was created with wood where I emulated an open book with focus on the central spine. A strong vertical line is prevalent in a lot of my work and has to do with having strength – backbone. In essence strength of character.

As the work progressed it took a turn and has to do with my process. I work intuitively, spontaneously, totally in the moment without much of a plan. I don’t use a sketchbook to record or work out ideas. I let the work, work itself out. Some take longer than others to find their voice, some never do, others can’t keep their mouth shut. It is through this process of intentional intuitiveness that I realized I was starting to seal the books shut, closing them off, making them inaccessible, unable to open. That was when I realized what the work was truly about.

Kim Bruce - KnowledgeI was using books as my canvas because books are knowledge and knowledge empowers. I looked for a book term to describe what I was doing. I chose Disbound.

DisBound is an exhibition about education for girls. It’s about choice. It’s about girls, and boys too, but mostly girls, who, due to tradition or religion, don’t get to choose. They are married off as soon as they hit puberty and often left to fend for themselves and their children because of war, strife or circumstance.

Gender inequality exists. It exists in Canada, the USA, throughout the western world, but is most prevalent in developing nations. I want to bring awareness to the importance of education and the role it has in shaping future generations. If girls are educated and given choices, they can influence the world.

DisBound is a bookbinding term that means to remove the book pages from its bindings; I use it as a metaphor for removing girls from the bonds of tradition so they can get an education. Disbound should not be confused with unbound, which, is a bookbinding term used to describe pages that were never bound to begin with.

As with all my work, this series of books, references the dichotomy of my early life expectations to conform to a traditional woman’s role, when in fact, a 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 under-laying message – the essence of my work – speaks to the roles and rights of girls and women.

I truly hope you will find meaning in the work.

Materials Matter

I am so honoured to be included in my first group show at Seager Gray Gallery. The exhibition is called “Materials Matter”. Donna did a really nice write up about my work and all the artists in the catalogue

The show runs January 30 – February 28, 2016
Reception for the artists:
Saturday, February 6, 5:30 – 7:30pm

Wish I could be there, but if you’re in the San Francisco area maybe you’ll drop in.

Material Matters, Seager Gray Gallery, 2016 – Written by Donna Seager
Material Matters, the third annual exhibition exploring artists and their media is being presented at Seager Gray Gallery in Mill Valley. The exhibition includes works by 16 artists working in cut paper, glass, weaving, clay, polymer, found photos, paint, salvaged steel, casein, charcoal, wood, altered book, steel, thread, cast lead crystal, and video.

Click to enlarge text

The artists included are Lucrezia Bieler, Joe Brubaker, Kim Bruce, Squeak Carnwath, Lia Cook, Stephen Paul Day, Ellen George, Andrew Hayes, Margaret Keelan, Lisa Kokin, Ted Larsen, Sibylle Peretti, Alexander Rohrig, Jane Rosen, Tim Tate and Barbara Wildenboer.

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.

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How Not to Go to Art School, But Go to Art School

Or how I went to art school by not going to art school.

It was 1976 I just finished my first year in design school. During this time I was exposed to art, real art, for the first time. One pivotal moment was seeing a showcase with a few pieces of a Mount Royal College student who had committed suicide.  His story and art really had an impact on me. The other pivotal moment was the drawing class…I wanted that.

I contacted ACAD, the Alberta College of Art and Design, and asked about transferring and if I would get credit for some of my first year of design school. They would credit for one or two classes, but I would have to start fresh in the first year.  Bummer, but it made sense.

Armed with my due diligence, I approached my dad to talk about transferring. Sigh.

This was 40 years ago, so I don’t remember his exact words save one, no. Needless to say I was disappointed. I went back to finish my diploma in interior design and went on to running my own firm and employing 12 designers, architectural draftspeople and support staff.

I think what played out for me this is a very common scenario. Good kid does what she’s told. Good kid didn’t know there were options, like student loans and going it alone. But the good kid was lucky, very lucky to have had her parents pay for a college education when most kids in the hood never contemplated going to college.

Fast forward to the mid 80’s. I started with Richard Halliday’s figure drawing class. Yes, I became a night school student.  Then Bev Tosh’s figure drawing class. Then Katie Ohe’s sculpture class. The list goes on for the next 15 years. My last teacher and mentor was late John Brocke (figure painting).

It was during my time being mentored by John, in the late 90’s, that I started thinking about going to ACAD again, this time as a mature student, part time.  I talked to admissions and got all the details and an application. There were lots of hoops, portfolio to make, work to create so I could make the portfolio. Oh my! And a business to run, OH MY! I started asking myself…

  • Was I getting hung up on having the legitimacy of a degree?
  • Could I afford it? Tuition is expensive.
  • I had a design firm to run, could I take the time away to go to school part time?

In the end I decided not to apply. And when I mentioned this to John Brocke, his comment confirmed my decision was the right one for me. So what did John say…?

He said that I wouldn’t thrive in art school, because I had more life experience that most of the instructors.

So I never received an arts degree. I went to art school to learn what I needed to learn at the time I needed to learn it. I became self-taught with a number of talented instructors and mentors.

There’s a number of pros and cons of obtaining an art education the way I did. I’ll go into that in the next post.

Photo credit:

Still Burning – 35 Anniversary of Burns Visual Arts

The Burns Visual Arts Society of Calgary is 35 years old.

The Burns is the oldest continuous artists’ cooperative in Canada with a mandate focused solely on providing affordable working studio space to professional artists in Calgary.

We are celebrating this amazing achievement with Still Burning, an exciting multi-media exhibition at PASSAGE, a new contemporary art space in the Dominion Bridge Building in Ramsay (803, 24 Avenue SE, Calgary).

The exhibition features the work of 20 artists, the current members of the Burns, and runs from September 18, 2014 to January 15, 2015.

Opening reception on Thursday, September 18, 4 to 8 pm.
Please come and celebrate with us!


Articles and Reviews

Yup It’s Still Burning by Daniel Lindley

BVAS: Still Burning Exhibition by the FDaily Tourist


UnDressed at Pajaro Valley Arts Council

Pajaro Valley Arts Council, PVAC, and the Santa Cruz Institute of Contemporary Art, SCICA, along with guest curator Rose Sellery present an exhibit which explores the realm of apparel and goes beyond the conventional limitations of fabric, needle and thread.

Expect the unexpected in this exhibit of curious, intriguing, narrative garments and accessories that utilize traditional methods, as well as experimentation with unusual materials, tools and techniques that create surprising, witty and thought provoking conceptual pieces and installations.

The exhibition will be held simultaneously in two galleries, at the Pajaro Valley Arts Council PVAC and the Santa Cruz Institute of Contemporary Art (SCICA) at the Tannery Arts Center.


Work being exhibited

Installation shot – Linda Cordy – “You Give Me Fever” (painting on back wall). Hat sculpture artist unknown. Kim Bruce – encaustic shoe sculptures

Pins and Needles Exhibition at Housatonic Museum


These are the pieces that will be shown at Housatonic Museum of Art, Bridgeport CT. Jan 21 to Feb 20, 2014

Reception: Thursday, Feb. 6th, 5 – 7 pm. Free and open to the public

Alberta Foundation for the Arts
Kim Bruce gratefully acknowledges the grant support from the A.F.A. to produce the work in the Heels series. 4 pieces from the series will be shown in this exhibition.

 Exhibition Images ©2014

One “O” in Poor

Canadian Artists for the Poor put out a call for 25 artists for a really fun project. The project consists of one artist painting one of the letters in their name — Canadian Artists for the Poor. The format is 11″ x 14″ portrait orientation.  They’re going to put them all together and have an amazing display of different colours, styles and fonts at Calgary Art Walk.

About One “O” in Poor…

There’s a lot going on in this simple little piece called “O”, which is one of the o’s in the word Poor.

The work is a collage of foreign currency (the real thing not colour copies) in a bed of encaustic. The wax was built up and scraped back to only slightly reveal the bills below. You know there is something below the surface but it is inaccessible.

I cut out the center of the “O” as a metaphor for nothing or zero, with torn bits of the international currencies touching the border. Visually and physically stopped at the edge going nowhere.

One could make note that I used money that could have otherwise have helped the poor. A waste? Perhaps. But maybe someone will appreciate the irony of this piece and contribute to the cause.