Local Artist Check-In: Kaki Dimock

Posted on August 20, 2014 by

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Kaki Dimock is no stranger to the Charlottesville art scene. A local from North Garden, she has shown her work at Second Street Gallery, McGuffey Art Center, and most recently The Garage, which is currently hosting her work “Minor Mutations.”

“This show started with an owl from which a tree grew.” Many of Kaki’s drawings begin with doodles. They may be instinctively created during a meeting or after a walk through nature, but they eventually evolve into original works of art. “Owl Growing Birch” was the inspiration for her show, which led to its theme of connectivity and interdependence within the animal kingdom.

The exhibit runs through the month of September and will have a closing reception on September 27th at The Garage from 4 to 6 pm.

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“Owl Growing Birch” along with other works at The Garage.

Kaki Dimock is an artist, social worker, animal lover and adventurer. Check out “Minor Mutations” at The Garage and find yourself exploring your creative connection to the environment and the creatures you share it with.

Photo/The Daily Progress/Andrew Shurtleff

Artist Kaki Dimock installing her mural, “Rivanna Water Shed.” Photo/The Daily Progress/Andrew Shurtleff

Kaki Dimock

Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? If not Cville, what brought you here?

I was born and raised in North Garden, just 11 miles south on 29. I left town at 17 for college, graduate school and other adventures including stays in Seattle, NYC, and Portland, Maine. I returned to town in 2009 to be closer to family and accepted the position of Executive Director of the Thomas Jefferson Area Coalition for the Homeless. We coordinate regional funding and services for the homeless and opened The Haven in January of 2010. I have been doing some form of social and policy work since my 20’s.

In addition to advocating for people in poverty, I am crazy for the animal kingdom and seek out every opportunity to spend time with animals. My partner and I have 4 rescue dogs and I serve on the board of Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary, which rescues, rehabilitates and releases injured and orphaned wild animals in Central Virginia. I live in a big field in Schuyler which I share with my partner of 17 years, lots of songbirds, a white-tailed buck with a clubfoot, several feral cats, a lovely skunk, a voracious raccoon, three kinds of woodpeckers, bats, and great horned owls, all of whom I love.

When and why did you start making art? What mediums have you worked with, or particularly enjoy?

I have likely been making art my whole life but I came to drawing late in life. My mom gave me a beautiful box of markers in 2004 and I have been making house and animal themed drawings ever since. I draw almost every night after work and call it my mental health care. It helps me be grounded and sane. My markers are brush tip which makes the ink flow like lovely paint. I prefer COPIC or Faber-Castell as markers and Micron for teeny tiny outlines. I have just begun experimenting with watercolors, though I am not very good at it! I do like the variation in tone and texture that they provide.

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A work in progress, Kaki Dimock

Most influential artist as a child? Teen? Adult?

I have always loved Robert Smithson and Andy Goldsworthy. They inspire me to fill my pockets with beautiful leaves and rocks and twigs while on a walk. My car rattles with such finds, all waiting for a grand art project yet to be determined. I have attempted Goldsworthy cairns at my last two houses, with greater and lesser success. I like the physical aspect of that work. Nature is by far the best artist I know. Natural things have great proportion, lovely spirals, interesting textures and deep mystery. Nature is beautiful and playful and treacherous, all at the same time.

What aspects of life excite you, stir your affections, fuel your passions, inspire your art? What influences your art?

Animals inspire my art. I engage my eyes by looking outside; I coach myself to dream about wild things. Some of my best relationships have been with animals. I think about what happens to all the animal ghosts. Is the ocean full of ghost fishes and ghost whales and ghost lobsters from all the fishing? Can you be haunted by a ghost animal? When I need inspiration, I read animal encyclopedias and I learn great stuff like that blue tit birds line their nests with lavender and citronella and other herbs for natural bug repellant, or that a group of bats is called a ‘cloud’. How cool is that!?

I am passionate about caring for people, being kind, addressing disparity, canning, living off the grid, building a healthy community, cultivating interdependence, gardening, generating hope. I love to look at other people’s art. I want to learn how to play the banjo but my left hand won’t do anything without me looking at it.

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Releasing The Sparrows, Kaki Dimock

Can you tell us a little about your artistic process? (Particularly in relation to the pieces in your current show at The Garage)

This show started with an owl from which a tree grew. I doodled this image at several work meetings and at least one national conference on homelessness and decided to make a real drawing out of it. I started thinking about the relationship between animals and their natural habitat. You can’t have one without the other. The wildebeest doesn’t exist without 200 miles to migrate. The giraffe doesn’t exist without super tall trees to eat. This interdependence is both limiting and a gift. So, this show is all about how connected we are, struggling together, winning and failing together, dependent and independent at the same time. These relationships require constant negotiation, communication, acquiescence, mediation to succeed. That’s the whole world and everything in it, right? The tension is where the growth is. My work often includes houses and animals, wild things figuring out the domesticated environment. People sometimes call the work whimsical, but I think this is a seemingly simple and straightforward way to work through complicated questions like: How do we live with animals? Why are some animals inside and some people outside? What should we do for each other?

What message(s) do you convey through your art? What do you want people to take from seeing your art?

While my art-making is informed by serious and not-so-serious thought, it doesn’t require that the viewer take away a specific message. It is enough to enjoy it, to like the colors, to smile or be disturbed. I don’t start with an assignment for my viewer. I hope that people will think about how animals and people are reconciled to each other, interdependent, but it is okay if they don’t. The thing is,I really like drawing. I like the way it makes me feel. I laugh a lot when I am doing it. I think through tricky stuff when I am drawing.

What does a day in the life of an artist look like from your perspective?

For any artist, not sure. We’re all different and should be. I draw at night, after work, and on the weekend. Sometimes in front of trashy, reality TV. I don’t have a studio, just a big box of pens and lots of illustrator boards.

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Pelagic, Kaki Dimock

What makes Cville special for artists of all forms?

Cville is a welcoming place for artists. It is beautiful, has all four seasons, and is full of green things. Cville is full of creative people and people interested in creativity. There’s a group for you. Ask around, you’ll find your peeps.

Favorite place in Cville to… be creative?

Everywhere. Sometimes you can’t help but put a bunch of rocks in a circle, or draw an octopus at a meeting, or help someone solve a meaty problem. It’s all creativity.

Favorite place in Cville to… see art?

The Garage, I like the intimate and dedicated space. I also like the unexpected interesting art at a restaurant or on a mural.

Favorite place in Cville to… grab a bite?

I like the Blue Moon Diner, Bang, and Feast.

Favorite place in Cville to… get a drink?

My mom’s house. She makes a great gin & tonic and is wicked good company.

Any other Cville favorites?

O’ Susannah and Rock, Paper, Scissors for everything.

What other Cville venues have hosted your art?

WVTF, The Gallery @ Fifth & Water, Second Street, McGuffey Arts Center

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“In Country, Under the Sea” at The Garage

What does the not-so-distant future hold for you and your art?

Not sure. I like having to work towards a show but don’t have another on the calendar yet. I am part of an artist exchange this year which will keep me busy this fall.

What pieces should we look forward to at your current exhibit at The Garage?

Marine Iguana! Rhinos Are Vegetarians! Releasing the Sparrows!

Lastly… Describe yourself in 10 words or less.

Oh, geez. Engaged. Compassionate. Thoughtful. Extroverted introvert. Optimistic, in a motivating way. Connected for the good and the bad. Distracted, in a good way.