Sooner or later, we all come to love and grief. It is part of the human condition.
In 2013, artist Kristin Krimmel lost a close friend with whom she had shared a profound love of language and literature. They delighted in the composition of words, their refined usage, depth of meaning, origins and history. In the ensuing months, feeling emotionally raw, she began to translate her grief into a visual expression of her inner turmoil. In the process she came to understand that the deepest components of friendship and its loss was simply a cycle of grief and love.
The resulting body of work was a real departure from her long standing practice, moving away from traditional materials and representational subject matter she looked for a new way to represent not only her struggles with grief but also the spirit of friend for whom she mourned. The genesis of this new direction and body of work began with the curation and defining of emotions as represented in text and it was these images that she began to upload and manipulate in Photoshop until she found the desired effect that best represented not only the mood but also the feeling the words expressed through the explorations of textual meanings and metaphorical colour.
Out of this process the following fourteen would come to make up this body of work: Inchoate, Exploration, Elation, Exposure, Intimidation, Love, Grief, Separation, Retreat, Indignation, Low Spirits, Gloom, Susceptibility and Acceptance. The panels would come to represent the seven stages of grief (as recognized by academic psychology), one of transition, and six of becoming involved in a love relationship. Ultimately these works are an expression of feelings, thoughts and experiences which could not be put into words of prose.
When the whole series was complete, she experimented and searched for a way to produce the work in a way that took into account the conceptual nature of the work while acknowledging these works were created using modern technology rather than the traditional methods that had up until then made up her art practice. After a number of experiments she found a way to do this in stark simplicity where the frame was essentially non-existent, printed with archival inks fused to aluminum panels, creating a high gloss surface that mirrors the viewer's image while contemplating the text. One of the resulting outcomes was a highly reflective surface where the images seem to come alive as reflections, both optical and metaphorical and it’s in this moment of reflection where we can find echoes of our own feelings whether it be in the elation of new loves or the challenges of our losses both past and present.
While this is the most difficult body of work Krimmel has ever done and is the most personal, it’s also a journey we will all experience at some point throughout our lives. How we travel though this will be unique to each and every one of us, yet in each of these works we will find commonality in the human experience. For Kristin it was through this transfiguration that she was able to find a comfort which allowed her to return to a place where love was again possible.
Of this work Kristin Krimmel writes: “I could have sunk under in grief from time to time. But because we meet the phenomenon of grief often, I decided to analyze it and somehow express it in artwork in order to work my way through it. Artists are people who take the pulse of society at various times and through these images, I want the viewer to explore her or his own cycles of love and grief – both the glory and the anguish. I want the viewer to remember the raw feelings that come with it which can be transformed with time into positive personal growth, culminating in forgiveness, understanding and healing.”
This exhibition would not have been possible it not for the support and persistence of Ted Lederer who repeatedly brought Kristin Krimmel’s work my attention and ultimately arranged for our meeting at her studio outside of Vancouver last year. I admire Kristin’s lifelong dedication to her craft and to her courage for undertaking such a radical departure stepping outside of her area of comfort and knowledge to create this truly contemporary, timely and culturally relevant body of work. It was certainly not what I expected to see when we first met and it was what lingered with me long after I left.
We are fortunate that Kristin has also offered this body of work as a donation to the Penticton Art Gallery’s permanent collection and it will add greatly to both our contemporary collection and our growing body of work exploring the art history of women in British Columbia. We also owe a great deal of gratitude to Hans-Christian Behm for the donation of the custom storage crates he made specifically for this exhibition.
Kristin Krimmel studied at UBC and at the Ecole de Beaux Arts de Reims, France; taught at Emily Carr College of Art and Design (1983-89) and has shown both locally and internationally. Kristin Krimmel is widely travelled, has undertaken art residencies at home and abroad and has been twice selected for the Joan Miro Foundation's International Drawing Competition.
"In my art practice over the years, it's the act of painting that has been a necessity to me, whether in oil, watercolor or acrylic. I like the physical immediacy of creating an image through paint and the process of making constant aesthetic decisions as each stage of the painting progresses.”
Kristin Krimmel lives and works from her studio in Maple Ridge, just outside of Vancouver, British Columbia.