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Photos: Rachel Gray

In The Making Collaborating Artist Interview: Kim Kilpatrick

By Apartment613 on May 14, 2019

Text by Joanna Tymkiw, visuals by Rachel Gray. In the Making is an interdisciplinary exhibition featuring the work of ten BEING Studio artists. The exhibition is the culmination of a workshop series presented by five local artists sharing skills in printmaking, sculpture, photography, storytelling and ceramics. Joanna is a member of BEING Studio’s Board of Directors and Rachel is the artistic coordinator at the studio.

Click here to learn more about BEING Studio’s In The Making workshop series.

Kim Kilpatrick has one of the most distinct voices you will ever hear. As a professional storyteller, this signature has served Kim well, but when she first started out, she was firm that there was one element she didn’t want to be known for: her blindness. “I didn’t want to tell stories about it because I didn’t want to be pigeonholed.”

Kim stuck to performing folklore and historical pieces until one performance, she worked in details about her own reality. “It started with stories about my childhood and moved into everyday things that I experience. To me, they were simple things, life being blind is normal. To others, it is exceptional – and the audience just loved them! It’s pretty much all I do now.”

Well known for her autobiographical material, one of her latest projects, a show entitled Raising Stanley/Life with Tulia: From Puppy to Working Guide Dog is a collaborative project that combines painting, audio, visual and theatre to detail issues of accessibility and canine service. It features original paintings by Governor General portrait painter Karen Bailey and was named by Toronto Life magazine as one of their “must-see” shows in 2019.

Speaking about her opportunity to guide BEING Studio artists through the storytelling process, Kim says “There’s a lack of variety of voices projected in mainstream media, so it’s important to have my voice heard and my experiences related. In The Making was important because these are authentic artists and their voices need to be heard.”

There’s a lack of variety of voices projected in mainstream media, so it’s important to have my voice heard and my experiences related. In The Making was important because these are authentic artists and their voices need to be heard.—Collaborating Artist Kim Kilpatrick

Even though BEING artists participate in creative writing at the studio, the art of storytelling is oral and performers aren’t supposed to ‘read back’ as it affects the authenticity in a voice. “The artists I worked with had such unique voices and perspectives – which is so authentic to them. We didn’t want to lose that spontaneity. Their voices are so expressive, they just had such great expression that we don’t get to hear everyday.”

To guide them through this process, Kim asked the artists to tell her only one part of the story they wanted to share. Describing why, she says “I wanted to find a story in that particular part. So I’d stop them every time I heard the potential for a story and then get them to expand on those smaller points.” This method of moving from macro to micro allows the artist to build layers of detail into their narrative and share those details that make storytelling immersive and experiential for the audience.

Speaking about curating the audio portion of the exhibit, Rose Erkins says that “what’s exciting about curating something sound based is that the minute someone puts on those headphones, they are experiencing a sensory deprivation – which automatically gives them a more intimate connection to what they are encountering.”

One of the audio recordings Rose selected was by Analisa Kiskis, whose piece reflects on her difficulty hearing. “Even though she speaks about what she has trouble hearing, she also goes onto describe her favourite sounds and speaks about how much she loves singing. She even sings at one point in the recording, which was so wonderful to hear.”

Expanding on the stories exhibit, “There’s so much complexity in there and there is so much in both of the recordings that could be extrapolated on. Even though I’ve listened to them several times, I feel like there’s still so much more there for me to hear.”

In The Making’s opening reception is Thursday May 16 from 5:30-8:30pm at the Galerie Annexe, Ottawa Art Gallery. The exhibition runs May 16-26. Ottawa Art Gallery’s drop-off/pick-up address is 10 Daly Avenue. The Daly entrance is between Waller and Nicholas on the south side. The Ottawa Art Gallery is a wheelchair accessible venue.