We've come to the realization that the cold has left and Spring/Summer are quickly approaching! We are planning on planting herbs outside our kitchen window, watching cacti grow in the sun and of course having fresh-cut flowers in our office! Today we are excited to have guest editor, Katie Corley of The Mississippi Experience back with us to share a special interview she had with Mississippi botanical artist + #thimblefriend, Joy Kichi!
Q & A with JOY KICHI
Who is Joy and what do you do?
I’m Joy Kichi, I’m an artist who works in drawing, painting, and glass, and for a year or so I’ve been exploring in a botanical direction. Lately I’ve been having fun making these glass cactus sculptures. They are quirky and beautiful, and I’m excited about them. My Husband Azod Abedikichi is also an artist, he’s the creator of Sports Claymation, and we are very involved in each others process and journey.
Has Mississippi influenced any of your art?
Yes, it has in the sense that I have changed drastically because of the people that have mentored me here, and everything that has happened for me in the last eight years has been here. I’m not making work necessarily about the south, but its definitely shaped me in my formative years; the artists who have mentored me, my employment at Pearl River, most of the artists I’ve collaborated with, Azod...
So yeah, everything about my life and a lot of what I think and who I am has changed while here, I became an adult here. My main influence comes from artists I know, and they’re all people I met here. Some are Mississippians, that have deep roots and grew up here and others are transplants like me.
What are some of the reasons you call Mississippi home? I came here originally for Belhaven University’s fantastic art department, I was expecting to go North for that but I met Bob Pennebaker and knew I had to go learn from him, there really isn’t another program like it. After my thesis show I was planning to move back to the DC Area, but then I got the job at Pearl River Glass Studio which was another unique opportunity I couldn’t pass on. There are perks to living in Jackson as an artist; my husband and I can afford a beautiful house here, two great studio spaces, and my job is across the street from our studios. We usually go to work together, each lunch together, and then I join him in the studio after I get off till we go home to sleep. I guess there is just an easiness. The low cost of living allows us to make art without too much financial pressure, and I think that attitude bleeds into the art community. Many established artists have been so kind and helpful to me, doing everything they can to help me establish good connections, find opportunities, and pass on what they’ve learned about materials. People just want to see you make good work and be a good neighbor.
What is your favorite place in Mississippi?
I love Ship Island. I’ve got my next Saturday trip picked already. We drive to the coast early with a cooler packed with avocados, lime, and beer to get on the first ferry, come back on the last.
What inspired your botanical series?
Well, I see the botanical series as a wide umbrella term for work I’ve been doing in drawing, watercolor, and a couple different ways I’ve been working in glass. I love plant life, and cacti, but honestly I picked the theme to force myself out of a existential slump I was in on “what to do.” Not that I wasn’t genuinely interested in plants, just sometimes you have to start going and find out why and where later. So, I headed in that direction and started to get more ideas than I could accomplish. The cactus work in particular struck me while I was taking a glass workshop with Michael Dupille, I had an idea for the first one, loved how it turned out and making it, and thought it could be a whole series. I think of the desert as an incredibly tenacious life force, with so much design variety. It’s very inspiring, and I’ve been playing with that, along with other themes that are just me as an artist, like bold contrasting color, design, pattern, what it seen and what is hidden, negative shapes and the use of line...
What are your hobbies outside of working with glass?
I like to cook, garden, and I do some very ammeter yoga and running. I love story telling. I love hiking.
Do you listen to music when you’re working?
When I’m drawing or designing I often like silence. The way I draw is a lot like meditation so I need silence, or ridiculous calm things like 12 hour tracks of humpback whales or rain forest bird and rain noises. Painting can be similar, except that when working on one canvas for a long time I’ve found if its associated with a certain album or song, I can listen to that on repeat and it helps set my brain back to where it was last painting session. My favorite artist to listen to while working is Sufjan Stevens. I also like William Basinski’s Disintegration Loops. With glass work, there are a lot of times where I just have to stand there for 10 hours and cut all these little parts. For that I listen to podcasts, audio books, comedy, Kanye West.
Can you describe a single habit that you believe contributes to your success?
Okay, well, let’s not assume I know what I’m doing. But, this past year I changed few things and had breakthroughs.
1. The main thing is just to show up. Get to work. Not every session is good, and I don’t really care if it is or isn’t, that’s not my responsibility, I just need to be there for the work, and maybe the work will be there for me. Sometimes I have to go when I don’t want to, I have to say no to things I would like to do, miss out on some fun, stay late when I’m tired from already having worked a full day- sometimes its transcendence and sometimes its exhausting mule like plodding. Recently I finished something amazing, I felt it was a turning point, then I made a mistake and ruined 40 hours of work on it. I wasn’t thrilled about that, but I wasn’t devastated; now I have a change to experiment on the wreckage, and I’ll never make that particular mistake again.
2. I stopped using my imagination against myself. I don’t worry about failure, whether an idea is good, whether a piece is working, whether I’m a“real”artist, things I feel are my weak points,whether people will like it...I realized that thinking had absolutely no benefit, and was a huge waste of time and energy that I could be harnessing. Instead of imagining hypothetical rejection or failure, I use my imagination to create new work, to plan my future, to practice.
3. I only make work I like. It’s very nice if people like it, but my opinion matters the most. I have no consideration whatsoever for the outside art world, opinions, whether I can do something, am good at it, whether its too weird, too predictable- those thoughts do not belong in my studio. When I make art, I make my choices based on my own instincts, intuition, and preferences. The result is a clearer mind, less inhibitions, and work that I’m really confident in, and oddly, work that is more relatable and personal.
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Thanks Katie and Joy!
*If you are local, Joy will be at the Stray at Home Art & Music Festival May 7th at Smith Park in Downtown Jackson!
For more pictures and daily updates, see Joy here: