Since August, Kiki Farish has been artist in residence with teen programs at the N.C. Museum of Art.
Farish, 55, draws from her experience, both as an art instructor and as a working artist, to give school-age participants a feel for what life is like for a working artist. And she shares her own experiences – including those that drew her to her preferred medium, graphite.
“In the third grade, I remember the class reading a story together, and it didn’t really have an ending,” she says. Confused and frustrated, she asked her teacher why. “Because he wants you to finish it yourself,” she was told. The lesson stuck with her.
In addition to the teen artist residency, which continues through April, she keeps an open studio at Artspace in Raleigh and teaches art at Meredith College. The past few weeks have been eventful for her: the N.C. Arts Council announced that she would receive a 2014-15 visual artist fellowship, and she is one of 13 North Carolina artists featured in the “Line, Touch, Trace” exhibit at NCMA. We spoke to her about her work.
One thing I’m realizing, and I’m trying to find a way to express this in my work, is continuity – what people went through in 2,000 BCE or whenever... the human condition is so much the same! There were rich people then and poor people then, sick people. When you read in the Bible those stories, it’s amazing how timeless, how connected they are to our experiences today.
One thing that I believe is that art is a place where you can take risks. It’s an opportunity for you to take risks and fail. It helps to build your skills as a decision maker.
We looked, for example, at a drawing by Degas, a dancer. It was one of his studies, it wasn’t meant to be a production piece. I asked them, was there some place they felt like he was sort of fussing over? They agreed that it’s the dancer’s left hand, and it’s almost like he wanted to make sure he got it right. By doing that, he kind of destroys the work.