Interview with artist, Kit Keith, from the "Portraits" exhibition

What organizations or creative groups are you involved with?

I show at a lot of galleries but I am necessarily involved in any groups.

What mediums do you work in? Do you consider yourself to be a painter, photographer, sculptor, etc? How do you define yourself artistically?

I consider myself to be a painter but I also do sculpture, photography – I do all kinds of things. I work in a lot of different realms of creativity.

Do you feel like you worry more about being liked or about being honest?

Honest. I try to use my intuition in my work, I think everyone should do that, and that feels like honesty to me.

Do you feel like you try to send “a message” or create any sort of social change with your art?

I do try to send a message – I want to give a feeling of hope and serenity and peace and things that I want for the world.

How do you understand the balance between your privacy and being open in/sharing your work?

I really feel like I do make myself emotionally vulnerable – not just in my painting but in many aspects of my life. It both comes naturally to me and it’s a part of my personality I have worked to cultivate over the years.

If you had to be described by others in one word, which word would you hope they used and why?

Nice – I want people to like me. I want to come across as a nice person.

What is a talent or skill most people would be surprised to learn you possess?

I’m really good at remembering numbers – and tying all sorts of knots. I was in the circus when I was younger. I was a trapeze artist.

What are some of your favorite words? (In English or in any language)

Lincoln (my son’s name), egg...

What are your fears?

My fear is mental instability, that’s my main fear. I have had problems with addiction – I’m not really afraid of relapsing but it’s just a difficult situation.

On a rough day, how do you practice self-care?

For one thing, I write a lot. I write all of the time and then on a rough day I might write to try to organize my thoughts.

What would you say is the most important lesson you have learned in life so far?

I hit rock bottom with drug and alcohol addiction and learned, from it, that I am stronger and more resilient than I realized.

What has been your biggest challenge in life, so far?

Just what we talked about – addiction and bipolar disorder.

What has been your biggest blessing in life, so far?

My beautiful son, Lincoln.

Do you have a personal mantra for hard times?

“Let thy will be done.”

Do you keep any animals? If so, who are they and what are their stories?

Ringo (a black dog) – I adopted him from an animal shelter event and he’s my baby, he was just a little puppy. He picked me. Smoky (my cat) was given to my by a friend 7 years ago when she was a kitten. She has extra toes on her front feet. And Peanut, my other cat. Peanut came from my friend Mikey – his cat had a litter of kittens. Two of his siblings are Siamese so he has that kind of quirky Siamese personality.

Favorite work of art or writing you have ever created?

One of the mattress paintings that I did in the past. It was called “All American Gal” and it was a collaboration with my friend, Mike Decapite. He did the writing, the text, that’s on the painting and I painted it on.

People who have and/or do inspire you? And what about them is it?

The Pop artists, the Outsider artists, children’s art – drawings that children do, stuff like that.

What are some things or places that really inspire you?

Junk, garbage – you know, remnants of discarded belongings.

Do you ever find yourself in a creative dry-spell? If so, what do you do to find yourself again and create new work?

When I get into a depressive episode, I just can’t do anything. But if I am in just a creative rut, I will go to the art museum or the library or Left Bank Books and just kind of immerse myself in art.

What is art? (It’s a difficult word to define and I am always curious about artists’ ways of understanding it)

Everything is art. I mean, I think the person who makes doughnuts is an artist.

What do you feel are the recurring themes in your work? What is the world you are trying to create/magnify for your audience? What do you hope your work makes people feel?

Serenity, peace. Recurring themes – I use a lot of collage and I just love capturing different expressions. I do a lot of portraits and I like to try to capture who people really are.

What do you think happens after we die?

I don’t think anyone really knows – I would hope that after we die we wouldn’t have to suffer anymore with these diseases and worldly things. I would also really love to be able to see my mom and my friends who have passed on.

Talk a little bit about your creative process – from getting the idea to the finished “product” of the piece?

Well, usually I kind of find a material or something and it works from there.

Does art have a “purpose?” And if so, what do you believe the purpose of art is?

I think it has a purpose but I don’t know exactly how to define it. Its purpose for me is that it keeps me sane, it’s what I was meant to do and I don’t know how to do anything else. I don’t want to be doing anything else.

What was the happiest period in your life so far, and why?

When my son was young, when I gave birth to him. Now the happiest times for me are just when I am with him.

What is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen?

My son, again.

What have you seen or experienced that has renewed your hope for humanity?

That’s a hard question. I see the goodness in other people, even strangers.

Is there anything that could ever convince you to stop creating?

No.

Is there anything else you would like to tell your audience?

Look & listen.