one of my friends here at the office told me about the artist kia neill, who makes these amazing installations of environments that are mysterious and magical. using found materials, and lots of glitter, she creates worlds that you thought only existed in your imagination. if you’re in the austin, texas, area, i highly recommend checking out these incredible environments at her show “terrain,” at the women & their work gallery january 16 – february 25. kia was also kind enough to answer some questions for me about her work:
what was the inspiration behind the installations in the “terrain” exhibit?
“‘terrain’ is actually the continuation of a series of previous installations. with each installation the environment grows and is reconfigured. most previous to ‘terrain,’ i created ‘grotto’ at lawndale art center in houston, tx. the installation was a sparkly cavernous environment the viewer entered immediately upon exiting the elevator on the second floor. it was as though the viewer was enclosed in a gigantic geode. A geode is actually a good analogy for my work as with my synthetic versions of nature i want to create the experience one hopes to have. for instance if you’ve ever gotten one of the ‘break your own’ geodes, it’s a boring rock on the outside and you’re told it’s full of sparkly crystals on the inside. you fantasize about what’s inside, then you open it, and it’s never exciting as you imagined it to be. my work is what you imagined.”
“here’s a bit of my artist statement, which explains more:
i am drawn to extraordinary, almost extraterrestrial landscapes, such as caves and coral reefs, as well as the diorama of miniature collectable counterparts that serve in household aquariums, gardens, souvenir cases, etc…with my installations, i attempt to produce an environment that reifies metaphysical association and fantasy that such spectacular and bizarre landscapes can induce. my aim is not a realistic replication of nature, but to place emphasis on gaudy or absurd embellishment so to render an enhanced synthetic ideal.”
what materials do you use to create the installations?
“cost effective and found. mostly paper mache, holiday lights, and i construct the crystals from cds i’ve cut and glued together. and of course, glitter, amongst other misc. craft material. i love hobby lobby, i really should be their spokesperson.”
you also do intricate graphite drawings…what is your favorite medium to work with?
“hmm….that’s hard. i’ve worked with all kinds. drawing, painting, ceramics, digital imaging, animation, etc…i think no matter what medium i work in, i always have conceptually sculptural approach, even if it’s a flat 2dimensional image. though, i do love glitter, i love how it gets all over everything! it’s like residue or evidence! i also like working with flocking, which is a short thin fiber that when applied gives a velvet surface. that’s very fun.”
what artists have inspired you?
“so many different artists have influenced me over the years, but i mostly look to everyday culture for inspiration. for years i have been fascinated by holiday decorations, kitsch, and all kinds of gaudy fake flower arrangements and home décor, especially those covered in glitter. my attraction to the aesthetic continually increases, i wouldn’t be surprised if my skin started to take on a gold plated tinge one of these days!”
if you weren’t an artist, what would you do?
“dance, cook, sing…maybe be a geologist. who knows, art is all i’ve ever done. my family are all artists, so i’ve been surrounded by art since i was a little girl.”
check out more of kia neill’s work on her website!
after my post about projects inspired by free people this morning, reader krystee sent me these photos of some of her crafts and they’re so awesome i had to post them right away! check ’em out, along with her description of how she made them:
“the stool was inspired by your vanity stool you used to have in the FP store. i went to purchase one and they were gone so i did a lil twist on small decorative one for myself. i used some fabric from and old scarf and beach cover up and extra yarn from my crocheting, and added the flowers to give it that bright enchanted garden feel.”
“i found the bookshelf in my dad’s shed so i painted them and appliqued on fabric and added the yarn and flowers to make it pop.”
when the visual mit from one of our stores sent in her photos from wisconsin that i posted yesterday, she also sent me a picture of this awesome free people inspired gingerbread house that she made. this got me thinking about other fp-inspired projects, and i thought i’d share some really cool ones that i’ve seen on our facebook page.
kaitlin got the idea to make this shabby chic scrap fabric ornament from a this post on the bldg 15 blog a year or so ago.
kaitlin was also inspired by our headband, shown here, and cut long strips of denim from an old pair of jeans and braided them into a headband…she says, “i love to find innovative ways to recycle old things to make them into something new!”
victoria made this fp inspired skirt out of two vintage dresses – so pretty!
free people is looking for an in-house hair/make-up artist to join our web team!
a candidate for this position should understand the free people aesthetic inside and out, and have creativity and technical skills to back them up. this person should have extensive experience in both hair and make for commercial and fashion photography. he or she should be able to produce fresh, innovative hair and make-up styles in a timely fashion. he or she should be experienced and prepared to groom one model daily for the FP.com and FPwholesale.com websites, and stand on set to ensure that the model looks her best in photographs throughout the day.
have extensive knowledge of various hair/make-up tools/tricks of the trade
should be able to stand on his/her feet for 8 hours.
have experience working with all hair and skin types.
be highly creative, keep a book of tears for inspiration.
experience working in a studio setting.
the new year is a time to make resolutions, and to think about your goals for the year ahead. one thing we’re thinking about here at free people are what causes we feel most strongly about and would like make an effort to support. there are so many important causes out there, ranging from the environment and poverty to animal and human rights. one of the girls here at the office told me about falling whistles, an organization dedicated to helping children affected by war in the democratic republic of congo and raising awareness to bring peace to the war-torn country. i was incredibly moved by the story… check out the video:
at the very least, we would like to help bring attention to important causes, and we hope to work harder to find ways to do more… and we would like to know what causes you, our readers, are most passionate about to make sure that we are aware. please tell us about it in the comments section!
well we have come to the end of our first book club selection, jack kerouac’s on the road.
i’ve read the book several times, but this time i really took notice of the writing style. kerouac got a lot of criticism for his skill as a writer due to the fact that it was written in a creative burst over a span of a few weeks, in one continuous scroll. however, the content for the book was gathered from notebooks that he kept throughout the duration of his travels, and personally i think that the hurried, frantic nature of the text perfectly suits the subject matter. it captures the impulsiveness of the adventures that Kerouac and his friends embarked on and the freedom of being on the road without any real destination.
i leave you with this…
“our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. but no matter, the road is life.”
p.s. we’ll be picking the next book shortly, so stay tuned…
is it just me or do these interiors by irina graewe scream free people? i think it’s all the use of pink…the post it notes, tape and yarn. graewe has studied and worked in london and germany, and is currently a freelance interior and set designer.
these images are from her “africa meets neon” and “patchwork” interiors. check out more of her work here.
don’t you love this adorable little coin purse? well we want to give it away! all you have to do is tell us what your favorite blog post was from the past year! leave your favorite post in the comments section by the end of the day tomorrow, and we’ll pick one at random…just make sure to leave your email address so we can contact you if you win!