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Jennifer Keim Loves to Play & Explore the Beauty of Exotic Animals through Art

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The Wesleyan Artist Market is back and celebrating its 25th year. On this special episode of Peachtree Corners Life, Rico Figliolini is joined by artist Jennifer Keim, one of the many artists featured at the Wesleyan Artist Market 2023. Jennifer shares her story, her inspiration, and a behind-the-scenes look into her creative process.

Resources:

Jennifer’s Website: https://www.jkeim.com
Jennifer’s Social Media: @JKeimStudio
Wesleyan Artist Market: artistmarket.wesleyanschool.org

“Already having an intrigue for the animals, wanting to be an exotic vet, and save the lions and tigers. I was already drawn to the massiveness. I just find them so beautiful and just so intriguing… I find that even if I’m in a rut, like what’s my next move? What’s my next series like?  What do I want to do? Do I even want to do art anymore?  In my moments of, oh, woe is me, I find that I just go back to the animals to help me break out of that rut.”

Jennifer Keim

Timestamp:

[00:00:30] – Intro
[00:02:20] – About Jennifer
[00:04:36] – Preferred Mediums
[00:12:53] – Using Wildlife and Travel Experiences
[00:16:55] – Creating Daily
[00:18:15] – Capturing a Moment
[00:20:13] – The Fly Guys Series
[00:24:39] – Textile Art
[00:28:11] – Jennifer’s Art at the Wesleyan Artist Market
[00:30:15] – Closing

The Fly Guys

Podcast Transcript

[00:00:30] Rico: Hi everyone, this is Rico Figliolini, host of Peachtree Corners Life. I do want to introduce you to our show and our special guest today, all the way from Hawaii. Jennifer Keim. Hey Jennifer. Thanks for joining us.

[00:00:41] Jennifer: Hi. Happy to be here. Thank you for having me.

[00:00:45] Rico: Cool. I heard you were on the waters on the ocean before. Everything okay? Took some Go Pros?

[00:00:49] Jennifer: No, it’s just gorgeous.

[00:00:53] Rico: Sure.

[00:00:53] Jennifer: It is gorgeous. The whales are active. And I had the chance going yesterday to an out rigger where we paddle out and we’re just right there with the whales, so.

[00:01:04] Rico: That’s amazing. Yeah, and we’ll get into some of that. I mean, some of your artwork is animal related. So we’ll talk about that inspiration. But before we get there, let me just introduce our sponsor for the podcast and our corporate sponsor for everything that we do. And that’s EV Remodeling. Eli from EV Remodeling lives here, right here in Peachtree Corners. Great guy. He was just featured in one of our issues recently. He does home renovation, remodeling, from design to build. Just a great guy, great family. Check them out. EVRemodelingInc.com is where he’s at. So check him out and let’s just get right into it. Hey, Jennifer.

[00:01:39] Jennifer: Okay, great.

[00:01:40] Rico: So you’re, we’re gonna call you, I mean, I’ve checked through it, done my research a little bit, so I have some stuff about you. It’s amazing what’s on the net. You’re a fine artist and lifestyle designer.

[00:01:52] Jennifer: Yes.

[00:01:52] Rico: A global design brand. In fact, the reason that we’re interviewing you is because you’re going to be one of 75 artists being showcased at the Wesleyan Artist Market here in Peachtree Corners April 28th and 29th. So I’m glad that you’re gonna be there. And you’re gonna be actually one of the three artists that we’re featuring in our print magazine in the upcoming issue. It’s just fantastic. But I want to know a little bit more about you. What makes the artist Jennifer Keim? So tell us a little bit about yourself.

[00:02:20] Jennifer: A little bit about myself. Well, there’s a lot.

[00:02:24] Rico: I’m sure.

[00:02:24] Jennifer: And lots of layers, but really it all started fourth grade. My parents were really good about having me try new things and see what my niche was. And so they put me in an art camp. And I’m from Columbus, Georgia. And they put me in an art camp at the museum for a week long. And the instructor said she has something, Jill Chancey Phillips. And she from there on, she’s like, keep her in it. She needs to be in the art world and I can give her private lessons. And so I had private lessons with her all the way through until I went off to school. So she was my mentor and I mean she is my special, so.

[00:03:03] Rico: Wow. And interestingly enough, I mean, you’re displayed in the museums and galleries all over the country. You’ve been on, featured on HGTV as well. You were also at Columbus museum, right? How old were you when your art was exhibited there?

[00:03:18] Jennifer: Well, I mean, I was very young, actually. And yeah, very young. And then there was a moment in high school as well, so, for one of the little exhibits. It feels so long ago though, a lot’s happened since then.

[00:03:34] Rico: I’m sure. What about HGTV? How did that come about? How were you featured there?

[00:03:39] Jennifer: Well, I was actually featured twice. Once there was an interior designer in Atlanta and she commissioned me to do a piece to go in her theater room. And I can’t even pull up in my head what year that was. I think it was probably 2007. And then my most recent one, my Protea, which is one contour line paintings. It’s one continuous line without lifting your pen, were featured through a designer for the Bargain Mansion Show with Tamara Day.

[00:04:13] Rico: Cool. It’s great exposure, I’m sure. The artwork that you’ve done, I mean, the mediums that you work in, there’s several different mediums it sounds like that you work in. Watercolor, you work in textiles, you do canvas work, oils, pastels. How do you come about choosing, or what do you feel most comfortable in expressing your inner artist? What type of medium do you like best?

[00:04:36] Jennifer: That’s a really good question because I feel like every medium has their own personality. So you’ve got your drawing technique that’s, you know, you can do quick gestural, And then you have your painting where you can just layer, layer, layer. So there’s just so many different personalities that happen when you’ve got the different mediums. And a lot of times it’s just the subject kind of craves a certain medium. So, you’ve got your line drawing and certain subjects, like the contour line paintings that I do, like just to have the simple shapes of the subject versus really getting into the layered paint of like a floral, like a mountain view. They each all have different personalities that you kind of play off of. But one of my main reasons too where I jump around, like I’ll play in oils for a while. And I mean, I’m a messy one, so like it’s all, it’s in my ear. It’s all over. And I try to keep it as clean as possible, but it just kind of happens. With the oils, you know, I love to use the pallet knife and work with the coastal scenes and see the layer of the marsh. And just kind of play off of that. But the oils and pastels after a while, and I didn’t realize this until it just kind of happened, it was a buildup of episodes that were happening with my body that I became, I realized I was, my body was toxic from playing and being in all the oils and pastels for a long while.

[00:05:57] Rico: Oh, wow.

[00:05:57] Jennifer: So I would work then I, it took a year to kind of clean up and not have any more of my episodes. Where then it just connected, what was the issue that I, there was just a common ground of the toxins. And I had to then be more aware of my surroundings and how I actually use these materials safely. So the awareness of using these subjects, or these mediums. I’m better now about keeping it safe.

[00:06:25] Rico: That’s a bit horrible if it’s like someone that loves cats, but is allergic.

[00:06:29] Jennifer: They’re allergic, yeah.

[00:06:31] Rico: That would be just bad, right? I can’t imagine that.

[00:06:33] Jennifer: Well, I have this really, really nice air purifier now, and I make, I wear gloves when I, and when I’m in the oils just to help one less thing to kind of get into my system.

[00:06:45] Rico: Sure, sure. So when you’re doing a piece, because you do series of pieces. And we’ll show a couple of these things. Has it happened when you started in a medium and then you decided that’s not the right medium and you shift and use it different? Or does it, once you decide watercolor?

[00:07:02] Jennifer: I’m always playing and exploring and I feel like if you’re not, if you’re not doing that and you’re not challenging yourself, then you’re stuck. But I always like to explore. I work with my off to the races too, and then some of my animal series with gouache. So that’s just, that’s basically like an acrylic and a watercolor, if they had a baby, it would be gouache. So you have the opaqueness, but then the transparency that can happen with watercolor, but the opaqueness of an acrylic, that’s gouache. Yeah, that’s gouache for you, yes.

[00:07:33] Rico: So tell us about the lion.

[00:07:35] Jennifer: Yes. Yes. And that’s all about just layering of color. There’s lots of layers.

[00:07:41] Rico: Was this a sketch or was this a final piece?

[00:07:44] Jennifer: This is a final piece.

[00:07:45] Rico: Okay.

[00:07:46] Jennifer: And so I start off with like that neutral color to draw it out. And there’s nothing forgiving about a water gouache piece. I mean, once you put a stroke down, it’s there. There’s no way of lifting or recovering from it. So, I always start with the eyes, because I feel like you’ve got to land the eyes or the piece won’t be as impactful. And then I’ll put down the base coat, walk away, maybe start another piece until the other one’s dry and start playing at the color.

[00:08:17] Rico: So is it the same techniques that you’re using, that you use here as well?

[00:08:22] Jennifer: So that’s the interesting part. The lion was a gouache and now we’re looking at the ostriches, and that’s my pastel on wood panel. And this is a drawing medium versus the lion is a painting medium. And so with this, this is one of my favorite techniques right now because it’s the vulnerability that happens with the whole process, I am dependent on how the resin reacts to the wood and the pastel. And my whole climate’s got to be good, dust-free environment. I draw it on first with the pastel. Also pastel, once it’s touched the wood, like not forgiving, like I’ve tried to lift it up. But because of the really deep blues, those always will, you’ll see like a ghost line if I had to erase. But I’ll do the pastel and then I will pour the resin in. And I don’t know if anyone’s familiar with resin, but you mix these two concoctions, stir, you mix for three minutes. And then you pour it onto the pastel resin or a pastel board. And I have 15 minutes to relieve the bubbles, and then I have to walk away for three days.

[00:09:32] Rico: Wow.

[00:09:32] Jennifer: And then the resin, the chemistry that happens most of the time, like I’ve finished drawing the ostrich’s with my pastel, and most people would be like, that’s a finished piece. And it is for, in that case, but for my process, that’s halfway through. So my next step is the resin which could change the whole game of this piece. It could make or break it basically.

[00:09:58] Rico: It sounds similar to, I interviewed last year, I think it was an artist that works at pottery, right? And glazing and using kilns and stuff to fire up. And it’s similar to that. They could be using a color that looks blue. And then once you’ve done the process and you’re, you have to really be careful when you’re baking, if you will, that you stop it. Completely stop the oxygen from allowing further the work because the colors will shift to completely different colors.

[00:10:25] Jennifer: I know. It’s so, it’s crazy. It is so crazy. And you have to level the board out too, where, I mean this, but I’ve been working with resin for 21 years. So I’ve learned and I’ve learned and I’ve learned. And every, because I used to build my boards, but now I actually have them built for me and do this nice beveled edge, that just kind of shows through once the resin is poured. But you learn these things. Like I have to make sure it’s really level because if it’s shifted somehow, the pastel that basically melts with the resin will then kind of just bleed through and then it’ll just move down in the direction of the gravity. So I’ve got to learn to manipulate that and make sure it stays up to where it’s not spilling off to the bottom of the panel.

[00:11:10] Rico: Wow. I can’t even imagine. You spend the time creating it and then you put the resin on and God forbid something big goes.

[00:11:17] Jennifer: I know. Yeah.

[00:11:18] Rico: You just throw it out and just start again?

[00:11:21] Jennifer: Yes. And there was my most recent pour, I did my largest pour in my whole career. Eight gallons of resin.

[00:11:28] Rico: Oh my God.

[00:11:29] Jennifer: And 13 pieces. And I always like to kind of challenge myself too. But I could have gotten myself in trouble, but.

[00:11:35] Rico: It all turned out okay?

[00:11:36] Jennifer: It did. I poured it and it turned out great. But there was one panel that was giving me a fit. And the bubbles just kind of kept coming up and up and up and up. And it was almost like it was just drink ing. The wood was drinking the resin, the way that it just pushing out all the air and oxygen and everything from it.

[00:11:54] Rico: Wow.

[00:11:54] Jennifer: I finally got it to work, but it gave me a fit. So there’s always, always, it’s something’s gonna happen.

[00:12:02] Rico: Yeah, it almost sounds like you have to heat up the wood or do something to the wood to prep it before you do the water.

[00:12:08] Jennifer: Well, it needs to be like regulated with the temperature.

[00:12:11] Rico: Okay.

[00:12:11] Jennifer: And the humidity’s got to be just right for it to dry and not get tacky.

[00:12:18] Rico: I’m sure.

[00:12:18] Jennifer: And no kids or dogs or cats or husbands could come around after. Like right after the pour, so.

[00:12:25] Rico: Yes. How old are your kids now?

[00:12:27] Jennifer: My daughter, Jane, is 10.

[00:12:29] Rico: Okay.

[00:12:30] Jennifer: And she’s in fifth grade. And then my son, Charlie, is six, in kindergarten.

[00:12:35] Rico: Alright. Old enough to know not to put their hands on the artwork as it’s seemed curing.

[00:12:39] Jennifer: Well, they know mommy’s pouring. Like when the big sign says, do not open.

[00:12:43] Rico: Okay, alright. That’s like my handwritten sign on the door. It says podcast recording.

[00:12:50] Jennifer: Yes, yes.

[00:12:52] Rico: It’s funny. Just to back step just a little bit, when you started wanting to become an artist in fourth grade or four years old. You did do that double major as a vet and art. I guess you wanted to become a veterinarian at some point, but microbiology wasn’t working for you, I guess.

[00:13:09] Jennifer: Yeah.

[00:13:10] Rico: But animals seem to inform a lot of the stuff you do, or at least wildlife does. And I know that at one point, for example, you went to South Africa where the exotic animals are. Did that inform any of the other work that you’ve done? I mean, how do you, how do you use trips like that? Like that or like Hawaii where you see the big whales in the ocean?

[00:13:31] Jennifer: Yes.

[00:13:32] Rico: How do you use that?

[00:13:33] Jennifer: Oh man. Well, so already having an intrigue for the animals, wanting to be an exotic vet, save the lions and tigers. I was already drawn to the, just the massiveness and just the larger, I mean, these guys are just, I just find ’em so beautiful and just so intriguing, being so large. But then going to South Africa and seeing them like right there how their circle of life works. And then seeing how much bigger they really are in person, right on their trek to go kill the water buffalo and all the things. It, I get chills. Like it just, it lights my fire. I mean, it livens me up. And I find that even if I’m in a rut, like what’s my next, what’s my next move? What’s my next series like? What do I want to do? Do I even want to do art anymore? Like when I’m in my, like, my moments of, oh, woe is me. Like, what do I do with myself? I find that I just go back to the animals to help me break out of that rut, if you call it.

[00:14:30] Rico: Okay. cool.

[00:14:31] Jennifer: But they just, they just make my heartbeat differently.

[00:14:34] Rico: I would think that seeing, I’ve been to Cairo some years back and seeing the pyramids, seeing the sphinx, way, way different than seeing pictures. Seeing the sand blow up onto the edge of Cairo, edge of the city. I mean, just so totally different. So I can imagine why you’d get inspired when you’re right there in the midst of seeing a giraffe. It’s different from a zoo I would imagine being out there on a safari or something like that.

[00:15:04] Jennifer: Well, the smells, and the breeze, and the sounds that happen. I mean, I remember one night we were out in the Lapa area. This was like considered the social spot and then all of a sudden the guy said, okay, you hear that? And we’re like, what? They’re like, well, you don’t hear anything. The bullfrogs that stopped croaking, which mean the hippos are on camp. So the way that all of the nature talks to each other, I get chills again. Like, it just really, it’s fascinating. Absolutely fascinating. And then just, we were out there and the lion that you’ve see just recently, his name is Zero. And I met him in South Africa. They had just killed a water buffalo and were chowing down and their bellies were full. And it was just nap time, yes. So that’s right before Zero took a nap. I’ve never seen a line with, dark, dark, dark mane and then a golden red body. I mean, he was just a stunner. And I actually do not use, so one of the things too is I do not use black in my artwork. The only time I use black is if I’m doing a charcoal portrait. Or if I’m using my India ink for my fly guy outline. So all of my other pieces that you see with you know, ostriches, and then the lion, I use either the deep blues or the really deep maroons and purples and things like that. I feel like there’s so many other colors than just black. And if you look at black, like you don’t just see a black, you see like a really deep blue. red.

[00:16:35] Rico: Interesting, interesting. Because life is like that a little bit, right? I mean, the only blacks you see are like in zebras and specific animal stripings and stuff.

[00:16:43] Jennifer: See, I see deep blue in the zebras.

[00:16:46] Rico: Okay.

[00:16:46] Jennifer: And then I see like the light purples in their white. The pink, the light flesh pinks. Well, that’s just where my head goes.

[00:16:55] Rico: So let me ask you this. I know writers that they write every day, right? Most writers like to write every day. Whether it’s two hundred words or a thousand words or four thousand words, or even one sentence. I mean, their feeling is they need to write every day. And sometimes it’s garbage. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it makes it, or a whole chapter goes away from a book. Or a character disappears because it’s not working the right way. Do you find yourself as an artist that you have to sketch all the time, that you have to draw? Or do you find yourself doing that even in the most complacent places like, just somewhere where you might be. Do you do that? Do you, is that something?

[00:17:30] Jennifer: 100%. I mean, there are definitely times that I like, have a break when, and I will go probably two days. When I’m out of town. But when I’m at home, I’m painting every day.

[00:17:41] Rico: Okay.

[00:17:41] Jennifer: Even like, I’ve even brought some of my little sketch, just something I can carry with me. But on our trip here, like I’m going to be whipping this out probably somewhere. Somehow I’ll find a way to maybe sketch the mountains and maybe some greenery. It’s just almost like a creative energy that you have to kind of get out. And then there are times that my husband’s like, you might need to go downstairs. You might need to go to the studio. Like, you get a lot of energy. Like go down and release that.

[00:18:09] Rico: Yes, yes. Before you explode, I guess.

[00:18:12] Jennifer: Yes. While you still have your moment.

[00:18:15] Rico: There you go. It is what you need for that tension to go somewhere else, into your brushes or something. When you are in a place like South Africa and you’re seeing Zero or something, or animals like that, do you also take photos? I mean, do you, how do you keep that memory in there to be able to do the art later?

[00:18:35] Jennifer: Well, right now I can see them and I can see that I can, it’s almost like you can take it back to the smells too. Well, for instance, one of our vehicles broke down in the herd of elephants, and that’s how my elephant charge came about. Because they were coming over and when they flapped their ears like this, it’s just like a threat. Like I’m a big boy. Like you’ve crossed the boundary. You need to move on. So he came over and that’s how my elephant charge came. If you look, you’ll see some of my paintings have the elephant that’s with the, with his ears out.

[00:19:04] Rico: Yes, I saw those. Yeah.

[00:19:05] Jennifer: And so there were pictures taken there. I think, I personally was wanting to just be there, be present and take it all in. I did bring my sketchbook, but I never touched it because I just wanted to be there, right there in the mix of it.

[00:19:19] Rico: Okay, okay.

[00:19:20] Jennifer: I think my next trip I will definitely want to bring the sketchbook out every day and like maybe do a blind contour with them right then and there. Because I do have books of just blind contours from trips that I’ve gone on. So they end up being like these, this small like sketchbook full of just blind contours. And a blind contour is one continuous line without looking at the paper. And I feel like that, sometimes when I’m also in my rut, I will go and do blind contours. Because it helps you just break that barrier of intimidation too, of putting pen to paper on a blank piece and just get loose.

[00:19:57] Rico: Right. So artists as well as writers get intimidated by the blank page.

[00:20:01] Jennifer: For sure.

[00:20:02] Rico: Or blank canvas. For sure.

[00:20:04] Jennifer: And so I took pictures for all the Africa, for that one, but then I have the memories and the colors in my head. The smells and things.

[00:20:13] Rico: Yes. I would think, yeah, I would think the smells and sounds actually inform a bit about what you do too. Let’s go from wild animals to something a little smaller. Something that takes a little bit more patience, I think. Not my cup of tea, I don’t like doing this type of fishing. But the fly guy, is a series of art that you’ve done. Tell us the medium you use, why you chose to do this and how it came about.

[00:20:37] Jennifer: The fly guys, they came about, and this is so simple, but my husband’s grandfather had this tie box that someone had done these flies fly tie box for him.

[00:20:50] Rico: Oh, okay.

[00:20:51] Jennifer: And it was in my studio. And so when he passed away, Danny got this box and I thought it was so cool just to have a little piece of Grant’s. And so it was in my studio and it was late one night because I am naturally a night owl. I like it when the world is quiet. That’s my special place, is when the world is quiet and I’m in the studio and can just go. And my alarm’s not going off to keep me on track and things like that. But I was in the studio and I was looking at them. Oh God, those are so interesting. And they’re so tiny. And the art of fly tieing is, I started to do more research on it, and it’s incredible. Like there’s so much, there is a specialty and an artwork in those little guys right there. Of the materials used and what they’d catch. I mean, I still have a lot to learn. I still have to go to my buddies who fly fish, and I’m like, who will we catch with this guy? And have I been true to the art? Am I accurate on my colors? I mean, I want to be able to speak to the people, you know that the niche that really loves fly fishing.

[00:21:54] Rico: Right. But these are actually fly bait? Fly, how would you?

[00:21:58] Jennifer: Fly lures.

[00:21:59] Rico: Fly lures, sorry. So these are actual real ones that you’ve created art from?

[00:22:04] Jennifer: Yes. But they are tiny.

[00:22:07] Rico: Yes.

[00:22:08] Jennifer: Those pieces are nine by nine each. So, and I tear the paper down, so you’ll have like the deckled edge. And then I use gouache and acrylic ink, and then I use my India ink pen to have that black outline detail.

[00:22:24] Rico: Wow. That is cool. I know you sell them individually, but have you ever sold them as a group like that?

[00:22:32] Jennifer: Yes. So this is what I love about these guys, all the personalities that happen with the fly guys. I have sold them unframed and then the client has gone to do their own framing. Or I actually, one of my favorites is I sew them onto a linen, a 12 by 12 by three linens. So it, to me, it’s feeling a little closer to the art of the fly tie. So I’ll sew them onto the linen and put them in an acrylic shadow box. And so they can either sit tabletop or hang. And I’ve loved to see people, how they have fun with either just one solo, or do a group of nine, or a group of twelve, or a group of three or two. Like they just have fun with the colors and the characters and creating a gallery wall of them.

[00:23:20] Rico: You know, I guess the sad part is with art like this, is that when you sell it, you don’t always see, you almost never see, I guess, where it actually ends up. What room, what wall that it lives in. Does that sound kind of sad when you sell? Because all your work is original work. It’s all custom one-offs. Do you ever think about, wow, I wonder where that is. Does that ever like come into your mind?

[00:23:45] Jennifer: For sure. No, definitely. There’s some shows that you don’t know who ended up buying the piece and then you just wonder where it is.

[00:23:51] Rico: Okay.

[00:23:51] Jennifer: And so you do have that question. But then there are some that I actually have a chance to see them hanging and it’s really rewarding to be able to see them kind of shine in their new home. So I do have some pictures of, that clients have sent over that it, it is really rewarding to see that.

[00:24:08] Rico: That’s cool. Or if you end up doing an exhibition or a gallery, I guess. It’s kind of neat to see when you walk around to hear what people might be saying about the art piece on that wall or being home.

[00:24:19] Jennifer: That makes me nervous.

[00:24:22] Rico: Does that make you nervous? Yes. I know, no artist likes to hear the reviews.

[00:24:27] Jennifer: Well listen, I have been in the critique world for, you have to have a certain thickness that happens with being in the art world. I mean, just take it for what it is. Great. And then move on. If you don’t like what you hear.

[00:24:39] Rico: Yeah, that’s true, I’m sure. Some people don’t like fantasy, but they like YA novels. It’s like that, right? So artwork is like that. Some people like sculptures versus paintings. It just depends. We’ve touched upon a little bit about textile work that you’ve done. Textile high art. There’s two thoughts of it, right? You could do textile painting or textile work that’s high art, or at the point that that particular textile has a function, then it becomes a craft, right? An interesting way of looking at something like that. But, you’ve done textile work, maybe pillows and fabrics and different things, right?

[00:25:16] Jennifer: Well, I’m actually wearing one of my, now my eyelash scarves.

[00:25:19] Rico: Eyelash scarf, okay.

[00:25:20] Jennifer: And one thing that’s fun about this one here, is I’m at, right today, I’m wearing it as a kind of a scarf to just actually add flare and color, but then to also cover my shoulders. It was kind of chilly in the lobby earlier. But I’ve been wearing this as a beach coverup too. So you have it nice with the air dry and then it just, the flow. But, so the textiles all started when I was pregnant with my daughter Jane, and she’s 10 now. But I couldn’t get in the oils and the pastels and I needed to have an outlet. I needed to figure out, what was I going to do? I had to create. But I started to play around with this material, the paint, the textile paint. And then it just started off, I started giving them as gifts as like little tea towels or whatnot. And then I think I did like some onesies and painted her some cute onesies. And it just evolved and it just led to sarongs, pillows, cocktail napkins, scarves.

[00:26:13] Rico: Are those also one of a kind or do you design it and then have it produced?

[00:26:18] Jennifer: No, I hand paint every single one of them.

[00:26:21] Rico: So cocktail napkins, if there’s 24 of them, you have to, you’re hand painting 24?

[00:26:26] Jennifer: Every single one of them, yes. But what I’ve found, because I do this leopard pattern, some people doodle or whatnot. It ends up being my think space. Like that’s my thinking time.

[00:26:37] Rico: Okay.

[00:26:37] Jennifer: There’s something about that repetitive motion.

[00:26:40] Rico: Yes.

[00:26:41] Jennifer: I have some of my best ideas when I’m doing those.

[00:26:44] Rico: That’s funny. You probably see different shapes on them as you’re creating those shapes. Or patterns and stuff.

[00:26:49] Jennifer: Well, they could come across as a leopard or they could come across as a horseshoe. So depending on which, what region you’re in.

[00:26:56] Rico: Right, right, right. As you’re doing it, that’s interesting. It’s like I hear writers say that, yeah, my character took me there. I didn’t even know I was going there. Or it’s like that.

[00:27:07] Jennifer: This material is very loyal to me and I’ve learned to, I have to iron every one to set it. However, if you look at my studio clothes, you might see that it probably doesn’t have to be ironed all the time, but they’re a certain color because it’s just very colorful studio clothes. But I have to iron every piece to set the ink, the paint into the textile. And not every textile reacts the same. So I have to learn how to either manipulate it. Or to where, if you put down the paint and it will expand. And if it does expand, like I have to make sure that my strokes are really smaller, so where it doesn’t end up overtaking the fabric. So you kind of learn the fabric and you then you just kind of get in sync with each other.

[00:27:50] Rico: It’s just amazing. Every form of art has its own little details that people don’t even think about, that aren’t familiar with the process of the art and what you have to think about and what goes into it. If they knew, then they could see the hard work and the inspiration that you got out of it.

[00:28:05] Jennifer: And I think that’s why I’ve, right now I’m in the middle of trying to tell that story for the pastel and wood panel. Because when you first see the piece, you probably don’t even understand what’s happening. Like what the process was prior. And there’s about 20 steps before the final piece. And so I’m trying to, I have a videographer helping me tell the story of that.

[00:28:26] Rico: Excellent, excellent.

[00:28:27] Jennifer: And we’re working on that together.

[00:28:28] Rico: I was going to say, you have to do video on that. They have to be able to see the drama and the tension of like, you did this beautiful piece, now I’m going to pour this resin on it. It better turn out right.

[00:28:40] Jennifer: Yeah. Right, right. And every time still, like with, I use the same pastels. I use the same resin, but every batch is different. Every wood’s different. Every like environment, temperature, all of it’s so different that I’m still surprised with this technique to the day. And certain colors just disappear. Certain colors blend. And that’s the thing with pastels, it’s all about a layering technique. So you can’t blend pastels. It’s a layering. And so with the resin it just melts.

[00:29:11] Rico: Geez. Well, we could go on and on about this. Art is a tough, tough world. It’s tough to be creative and it’s actually tough to produce it apparently. But you’re going to be showing your work at the Wesleyan’s Artist Market. That’s going to be end of April. Around April 28th and 29th, Friday and Saturday. 75 other professionals from around the Southeast will be there. Here in Peachtree Corners. Do you wanna share with us in brief what type of art? I mean some of the stuff that we’ve seen already during this podcast. What other stuff are you bringing? What can people expect?

[00:29:47] Jennifer: Well, first off, I love this. This is such a great show. I mean, really last year was my first year joining and I was blown away. They’re a great collection of artists. A lot of creativity under one roof. Fantastic people all around. I’ve been, the campus, just the vibe there is just all very happy and just a good heart. Big, big, good, big hearts. And I have a collections of the animals and then I’ll have the fly guys. And then I’ll have the off to the races, which are like my three go-tos.

[00:30:22] Rico: Right.

[00:30:23] Jennifer: And so I’ll have a variety of those, all new works. And I’ll have some of my newest pastel and wood panel off to the races, which I’ve just did for the first time about three weeks ago. So that was a fun experience. Because I’m used to painting those and that, so I used the drawing pastel and then the resin. So I’ll have a variety. All new works though. All hand painted, all original. But I will probably have my wallpaper, which is, this is my only thing I’ve ever printed. I have my fly guy wallpaper and my animal wallpaper. I’ve just finished. Now I just am trying to figure out how to talk about it and promote it, so.

[00:31:03] Rico: Right, right, right. Wow.

[00:31:05] Jennifer: Maybe I’ll send you a picture of it. Maybe you can add it in. It’s so, it’s so neat.

[00:31:09] Rico: Yes. I’m waiting for some high-res photography from you.

[00:31:13] Jennifer: And I’ve got that coming for you.

[00:31:14] Rico: Excellent. So if people want to follow you, where can they find out more information about Jennifer Keim?

[00:31:20] Jennifer: Okay. They can find more information on my website, which is www.JKeim.com, and that’s J-K-E-I-M.

[00:31:28] Rico: Okay.

[00:31:29] Jennifer: Or you could find me on my Instagram, which is @JKeimStudio.

[00:31:33] Rico: Cool. And Facebook, I think?

[00:31:35] Jennifer: Yes. On Facebook too.

[00:31:37] Rico: Cool. Great. Check her out. Lots of stuff on there. I was just on there. I saw her dive with her GoPro, not dive herself, but into the waters, the blue waters of Hawaii. But you can follow Jennifer on social media and see what’s up with her and what she does and stuff. It’s kind of interesting to see the behind the scenes of what an artist has to do to create the stuff they bring to these shows. So check that out. Check her out. To find out a little bit more about the Wesleyan Artist Market go to, just search Wesleyan Artist Market. Google that and you’ll find the place. And it’s being held at the Wesleyan School, which is a private prep school here in Peachtree Corners. Great school and a great supporter of ours as well. And we’re a sponsor of the Wesleyan Artist Market. So, great stuff. Great artist. Jennifer, this was a pleasure talking with you about art.

[00:32:24] Jennifer: I really enjoyed having this time with you.

[00:32:27] Rico: Yeah, no, same here. I appreciate you spending the time, especially from Hawaii. So, and the wifi seemed to work out just fine. So we’re all good.

[00:32:35] Jennifer: And no kids barged in wanting to go to the pool.

[00:32:39] Rico: And my cats didn’t show up on my desk either this time.

[00:32:42] Jennifer: Yes.

[00:32:44] Rico: So hang in there for a minute while I just sign off. Thanks again for being with us. This is Peachtree Corners Life. My name is Rico Figliolini. You can find out more about our publications at LivingInPeachtreeCorners.com. These podcasts, and we’ll be sharing three artists profiles and then upcoming issue of the, I think it’s our April/May issue of Peachtree Corners Magazine. And Jennifer will be one of them. So, check that out and have a great week.

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Arts & Literature

Wesleyan School Senior Selected for 2023 AP Art and Design Exhibit

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Wesleyan School senior Elizabeth Tian is one of 50 students whose artwork was selected for inclusion in the 2023 AP Art and Design Exhibit. This is an online exhibit that shows exemplary AP art portfolios selected from over 74,000 entries.

This year’s exhibit features student artwork showcasing a diverse range of student ideas, styles of artmaking, materials used and conceptual as well as physical processes involved with making works of art.

“Inclusion in this exhibit is highly selective and proves Elizabeth’s brilliance in concept and technique,” said Meagan Brooker, assistant director of fine arts and art teacher.

The exhibit will feature Tian’s portfolio alongside a profile.

“Elizabeth is a tremendous student that works so hard and puts much thought into design. I am thankful for Ms. Brooker’s dedication, guidance, encouragement and critical thinking that allows her to equip her students to grow in their artistic ability,” shares Joe Koch, high school principal.

To learn more about the school, visit www.wesleyanschool.org.

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Arts & Literature

High Museum of Art Presents Exhibition of 19th-Century Black Potter from the American South

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Coming this spring, from Feb. 16 – May 12, 2024, the High Museum of Art will be the only Southeast venue for “Hear Me Now: The Black Potters of Old Edgefield, South Carolina.” 

The exhibition features nearly 60 ceramic objects created by enslaved African Americans in Edgefield, South Carolina, in the decades before the Civil War. 

These 19th-century vessels demonstrate the lived experiences, artistic agency and material knowledge of those who created them.

The works include monumental storage jars by the literate potter and poet Dave (later recorded as David Drake, ca. 1800-1870) as well as examples of utilitarian wares and face vessels by unrecorded makers. 

“Hear Me Now” will also include work by contemporary Black artists who have responded to or whose practice connects with the Edgefield story, including Theaster Gates, Simone Leigh and Woody De Othello

The exhibition is organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

 

“We are honored to present this exhibition, which recognizes the innovation of Edgefield potters—a practice all the more remarkable given that their work was created under the most inhumane conditions of enslavement,” said Rand Suffolk, director of the High.

“It’s an important story, one that not only dovetails with the High’s longstanding recognition and display of Edgefield pottery but one that should also resonate with our regional audiences.” 

In the early 1800s, white settlers established potteries in the Old Edgefield district, a rural area on the western edge of South Carolina, to take advantage of its natural clays. 

Hundreds of enslaved adults and children were forced to work in the potteries, bearing responsibility for the craft, from mining and preparing clay to throwing vast quantities of wares and decorating and glazing the vessels. 

By the 1840s, they were producing tens of thousands of vessels each year. The stoneware they made supported the region’s expanding population and was intrinsically linked to the lucrative plantation economy. 

The history of slavery is widely understood in terms of agriculture, but these wares tell the story of what historians call “industrial slavery,” where the knowledge, experience and skill of enslaved people were essential to the success of the enterprise.

White enslavers and factory owners often marked the wares with their names, therefore claiming the expertise of the enslaved as their own. Only some of the enslaved makers have been identified so far, and more than 100 of their names are highlighted in the exhibition. 

One identified maker included in the exhibition is Edgefield’s best-known artist, Dave, later recorded as David Drake, who boldly signed, dated and incised verses on many of his jars.

“Hear Me Now” features many of Dave’s monumental masterpieces, along with a video featuring Dave’s newly discovered descendants Pauline Baker, Priscilla Carolina, Daisy Whitner and John Williams, in which they reflect on his work and their family connections.

Among the other exhibition highlights are 19 face vessels or jugs, which served as powerful spiritual objects and were likely made by the Edgefield potters for their own use.

Their emergence in the region roughly coincides with the 1858 arrival in Georgia of the slave ship The Wanderer, which illegally transported more than 400 captive Africans to the United States.

More than 100 of those individuals were sent to Edgefield, where they were put to work in the potteries. Growing evidence suggests that their arrival brought African-inspired art traditions, religion and culture to the area. 

The face vessels resemble nkisi, ritual objects that were important in West-Central African religious practices to facilitate communication between the living and the dead.

“Hear Me Now” examines the continuing legacy of Edgefield with works that respond to and amplify Edgefield’s story.

“Hear Me Now: The Black Potters of Old Edgefield, South Carolina” will be presented in the Special Exhibition Galleries on the Second Level of the High’s Stent Family Wing.

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Arts & Literature

Beatrix Potter Exhibition Coming to the High Museum This Fall

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This October, the High Museum of Art will present “Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature.” The interactive exhibition encourages visitors of all ages to explore the places and animals that inspired Potter’s popular stories, such as “The Tale of Peter Rabbit.” 

More than 125 personal objects will be displayed, including sketches, watercolors, rarely seen letters, coded diaries, commercial merchandise, paintings and experimental books. The exhibition will also examine Potter’s life as a businessperson, natural scientist, farmer and conservationist. 

The exhibition is organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum and is the latest in the High’s series celebrating children’s book art and authors. 

“The High is committed to serving family audiences and connecting them to the power of children’s book art, which can inspire creativity, engender empathy and teach important life lessons,” said Rand Suffolk, the High’s Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr., director. “We are delighted to share the wonderful illustrations and stories from Potter’s famous tales with our youngest visitors and explore the author’s life story, which was marked by a love of learning and dedication to preserving nature for future generations.” 

Beatrix Potter (British, 1866–1943), Appley Dapply going to the cupboard, 1891, watercolor on paper, Victoria and Albert Museum, given by the Linder Collection, LC.29.A.1. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London, courtesy of Frederick Warne & Co. Ltd. and the Linder Collection.

Born in London, Helen Beatrix Potter was passionate about animals and the natural world from an early age. This passion sparked her career as a world famous author and illustrator. Her interest in nature also influenced other aspects of her life, leading to significant achievements in art and science.

“Drawn to Nature” connects elements of her creative practice, from building characters and observing nature to telling stories and conserving the environment. 

“Beatrix Potter’s singularly creative life offers insights for all ages. This exhibition, part of the High’s longstanding dedication to families and intergenerational learning, is designed to welcome everyone to ask what it means to see with imagination and care for our world, together,” said Andrew Westover, exhibition curator and the High’s Eleanor McDonald Storza director of education. 

The first section of the exhibition focuses on how Potter developed the characters that inspired her most famous stories, including “The Tale of Peter Rabbit,” “The Tale of Benjamin Bunny” and “The Tale of Jemima Puddle Duck.” 

Beatrix Potter (British, 1866–1943), Drawings of a bridge scene and hares at play, 1876, watercolor and pencil on paper in stitched book, Victoria and Albert Museum, Linder Bequest, BP.741. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London, courtesy of Frederick Warne & Co. Ltd.

She modeled her characters on animals familiar to her, and her stories were informed by careful observations of nature. “Drawn to Nature” will include many of her original character sketches and more insight into how she built richly imagined worlds. 

The exhibit also explores Potter’s scientific observations and will feature a cabinet of curiosities alongside her realistic nature drawings.

“Drawn to Nature” will reveal Potter’s abilities as a storyteller, illustrator and entrepreneur. From her mid-20s, Potter translated her close observation of animals and nature into detailed pictorial storytelling. 

She also sold holiday cards featuring her drawings and designs. These letters and illustrations became the basis for her stories, and in 1902, she signed a publishing deal.

Another section of the exhibition features sketches and finished artworks from her books, including “The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin” and “The Tale of Benjamin Bunny.” This section will feature a dedicated reading space to sit and enjoy Potter’s children’s books. 

In the exhibition’s final section, watercolors, personal items and drawings will demonstrate Potter’s love for England’s Lake District and her work to conserve its landscape and local farming culture. 

Beatrix Potter (British, 1866–1943), Drawing of a walled garden, Ees Wyke (previously named Lakefield), Sawrey, ca. 1900, watercolor and pen and ink on paper, Victoria and Albert Museum, Linder Bequest, BP.238. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London, courtesy of Frederick Warne & Co. Ltd.

Following her permanent move there, she recognized how much locals and visitors treasured the region. When she saw modern development threatening what made it unique, she used her privilege and position to help protect the area. 

She built up flocks of Herdwick sheep, which were in danger of dying out, and ensured the landscape would be protected forever by England’s National Trust. Upon her death in 1943, she left the charity thousands of acres of her own land and 14 working farms. 

“Above and beyond the delight that Potter’s book characters and illustrations bring to our lives, her creativity as a businessperson, scientist and conservationist can inspire all audiences,” said Westover. “It’s a privilege to share her stories and invite everyone to rediscover a beloved author and her enduring legacy.”

In conjunction with the exhibition, the Alliance Theatre at The Woodruff Arts Center will present “Into the Burrow: A Peter Rabbit Tale,” a musical written by Mark Valdez and inspired by Potter’s stories. 

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