KéKé Cribbs

where she sleeps: the artifacts of dreams


In the Rudyard Kipling story of the "Cat Who Walks By Himself", the cat declares "I am the cat who walks by himself and all places are alike to me." Sometimes I relate back to this favored story and think "I am the artist that walks by herself and all materials are alike to me"

As a child I loved all forms of storytelling whether it was literature, painting and illustration, or the first Disney films and the annual showing of the Wizard of Oz. The Baby Boomer culture is rich in visuals and stories in part because it was the advent of television and a lot of fabulous breakthroughs in film, both technically and in content. From Fellini to Disney, my world was full of wonder and hope; the Great Escape was a real place you could go to.

At some level all of these bits and pieces of culture inevitably filter into one at an almost cellular level, becoming part dreamscape and part reality; we are the Transformers of our various cultures, our myths and symbolisms generated by our surroundings.

"Where She Sleeps, the Artifacts of Dreams" is the title I chose for the current exhibition, but it is also a theme that I will continue to work with for some time to come because I realized that if offers me the total freedom of subject and material that I require in order to be super productive.

"Super Productive" means being able to work from the heart without the constraints of being pigeon-holed as a particular kind of artist which is tied to a particular medium that an artist works within; I hate that! I just want to make what I want to make using materials I love and which I deem appropriate to what I have to say at any given moment …. I always thought that was what art was …. reverse painting on glass with vitreous enamels is one of the things I have done for a long time. Some of the materials I work with, i.e., ceramics, fiber, metal and wood, are materials I have added to my repertoire in order to create more freedom in the way I work with flat glass.

It is true that each of the pieces in this exhibition has a story and a "raison d'être"; it is also true that these stories are built from emotions and experiences that are often a shared part of being human; that is to say that the imagery I tap into is often shared at some subconscious level with the viewer, and thus the story is shared through a marriage of mind meeting mind.

In the most recent paintings on glass I chose the theme of the Rabbit. My Chinese Horoscope animal is a Rabbit, and 2011 is the year of the Metal Rabbit (or Armored Rabbit). I feel particularly close to this image as it depicts the perfect Yin and Yang symbol, that of hard and soft, female and male, the effort to remain soft and true to ones heart with just enough armor to survive living in the real world. With the addition of the theme of Sleep and Dreams the armor can take on many forms; even sleep is a form of armor, and the armor of dreams can be released upon waking.

Another theme that runs throughout the work in this exhibition began with "Raggedy Man Down Under" and the first "Scatola" house, which is a beautiful shack; the word "Scatola" means "metal box" in Italian. I was working on this series during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and thinking about what elements can be used to create a simple form of habitation and protection and how even a cardboard box can be a castle if you need it to be. The "Scatola" is built as a raft or house boat, minimal but full of light, a versatile palace with a chimney.

From Rags to Rags; in these hard times one must always ask the question of just how much do we need to survive. Dreams become our most valuable currency, and telling stories is proof of our humanity; without stories there would not be history or culture; without art there would not be stories; without stories we are simply beasts in the night.


about the ROSSKIKI work


ROSSKIKI is an entity; it is a whole playground; it is a Tag; it is a name I created  in order to acknowledge the team of glassblowers I was working with during several different Residencies where Playing and Experimenting were the order of the day.

ROSSKIKI is like a whole circus act; each performer is requested to bring his best attitude and strengths to the table, to be open minded and willing to explore unfamiliar ideas and develop new techniques, and all of this in front of an audience.

In 2009 I hired Ross Richmond to gaff for me for three days; we had barely met before that. I arrived at the early morning appointment with a suitcase of glass powders and a batch of drawings, some of them on glass. Amazingly, Ross was able to look at the drawings and understand not only the form, but the intention of the characters I wanted to create in glass.

I have worked for many years with various gaffers and developed what I call  "hot printing on glass", a way of picking up glass powders which have been laid out on the marver using a variety of tools and a homemade vacuum pen which allows me to create relief designs using multiple colors. I love working this way, and it compliments the many other ways I work with surface decoration and form, both on glass and in ceramics.

Working with Ross was the first time I had ever seen a glassblower attempt to  sculpt the hot glass as if they were working in clay. Ross has developed an amazing vocabulary and knowledge of hot glass that is complimented by a large array of specialized tools and torches that allow him finely sculpt small details and push forms out of the glass.

I applied for Residencies at both the Museum of Glass in Tacoma and the Toledo Art Museum and sent images of the first six pieces which Ross had gaffed for me; I wanted more time to work with Ross in an environment that would allow us to really explore our joint strengths. Upon being awarded both of the Residencies Ross agreed to join me.

Once again, I brought drawings and powders, but now we had a much larger team to work with and we could attempt larger pieces and more complicated concepts. "Big Bad Bunny" is  a good example of a piece made up of parts that were made at MOG and later assembled using mixed media parts in my studio.

I created the name ROSSKIKI in order not only to acknowledge Ross and the other team members, but also as a way of conceptually  acknowledging the importance of collaboration and play in the growth of creativity. The work made with Ross and also with ROSSKIKI could not exist without the players; everyone participated, everyone gained something from the experience, including the audiences who watched us fearlessly tackle new ideas with true team spirit.

I would especially like to thank Ross Richmond, Danny White, Gabe Feenan and Sarah Gilbert for helping to make the the blown glass parts for this show; we are all ROSSKIKI! And with any luck we will have more opportunities to work  together in the future!

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