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Neill goes from huge art to small

KIMBERLY NICOLETTIsummit daily news

Kia Neill is the black sheep in her family. She comes from a long line of commercial and marketing and branding artists, but she chose fine art.”When it came to my creativity, I didn’t want anyone defining to me their agenda,” Neill said. “I have a memory of when I was 3 years old (saying) ‘If I’m going to be an artist, then I want to be an artist like Picasso.'”Still, she earned her bachelors (in fine art) at the same college nearly her whole family attended: The Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, Ohio. She continued on to the University of California in San Diego for her graduate studies, which ended in 2005.She experimented with a number of mediums but never settled into one, though she considers her niche to be sculpture and installation. “She is a super cool installation artist working with paper mache and flocking to create organic sculptures,” said Jenn Cram, Arts District administrator.Neill doesn’t use traditional sculpture materials, such as bronze or clay. Rather, she uses found objects, foam and paper mache. She began using the latter after creating huge pieces and realizing other materials were simply too heavy to haul.For example, she created a large grotto-type structure for Lawndale Art Center in Houston, Texas. She installed it on the second floor, so when people exited the elevator, they found themselves “immersed into another world, sometimes with strangers.” She later reformatted the piece for another display in Austin, Texas, and this time the grotto transformed into a 30-by-40-foot horizontal layout on the floor.She also has painstakingly hand carved more than 100 bison, each measuring about a foot long. The bodies morph into each other, so some buffalo have half a body or an extra leg.”I was interested in the actual identity of the species of the bison as an animal getting lost and turned into something else with all the historical baggage we put on it,” she said. “It shows the loss of individuality; they no longer have their unique identity.”While she’s at the Tin Shop, Neill plans on exploring the world of smaller works because she’s “done all these crazy big installations over the past years.”She has made drawings, which she sees as analogous to domestic crafts, such as knitting and quilting and describes as a moving meditation in its repetition, and the fact that it takes long but doesn’t require a lot of concentration.”I’m interested in fantasy and escape and see this meditation as fantasy and escape,” she said. “The drawings document the subconscious landscape of that moment of mind wandering.”After drawing, she sewed fabric just as she would draw lines. Forcing or pulling the fabric resulted in three-dimensional “topical creations,” which she wants to investigate more.She also plans to work with two-part epoxy clay, which sets up and feels and looks like foam. When made into tiny coils and stacked upon each other, the result resembles an oyster shell.On May 20 and 25, Neill will host public workshops in which participants will build small, abstract plant-like sculpture using the flocking process, which employs tiny fibers to give a velvet-like surface.


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