Just To Be Asking: Kit MiracleMay 6, 2021
By CHRISTINE STEPHENSON
Kit Miracle is a contemporary impressionist painter living in Birdseye. The former Jasper Community Arts Director has had work shown in numerous solo and group exhibits across the country.
Her new exhibit, called “Intimate Spaces,” features a beach series and a breaking bread series, which tell stories of people in their natural habitat. The exhibit is open today through June 25 at the Thyen-Clark Cultural Center in Jasper.
You’ve said before that you can’t remember a time when you weren't an artist. How did your love for art and painting begin?
It sounds like a cliche, but some kids are attracted to movement and music, and some are attracted to that big old box of Crayola crayons. I don’t have anybody else in my family that’s in the arts, but they were always supporters. My mother would decorate our home with what we could afford at that time, which were mostly prints from museums. Then when we traveled, we’d always visit museums, and I still do today with my children and grandchildren.
I’ve been painting probably between 35 and 40 years. I started off mostly in watercolor. It was really dreadful. I think I saved somewhere one of my first pieces, and I’ll take it to a class or something and be like, ‘This is where I started.’ People look at my work now, and they’re like, ‘Wow, I could never do this,’ and I’m thinking, ‘Well, you could if you put 35, 40 years of investment into it.’ I’ve always been very attracted to people and situations. I’m kind of a spy, I guess, which is kind of the theme of the show (at the cultural center).
What was the inspiration for the series shown at this exhibit?
I love people watching wherever I go. With the beach series, we were at the beach a few years ago, and I realized how people would come in and stake out their territories, put up their canopies, and then they pretend like nobody can see them. So I wanted to capture some of that.
And then I was taking a tour of the (cultural center) when it was in progress last year, touring the galleries. Even though I was involved in the design and all the beginning parts of it, until you actually see it, you don’t realize how big it is. I had 16 pieces in the beach series, so I was like, ‘I’m going to need a whole lot more work.’ So I started a whole new series around December 2019 called "Breaking Bread," and it’s the idea of sharing meals with people. And then right after that, we had the pandemic and people couldn’t go out to eat anywhere.
I take photos just about everywhere I go. I have thousands of photos from the past two decades or so. Sometimes they’ll sit for years before I’ll go back and look at them and it brings me back to the place, and I’ll think, ‘That’s a really cool picture.’ Usually I don’t use the whole photo, though. You crop out the part that you like or leave out the stuff that doesn’t make any sense. The hardest place to take photos are in restaurants because you have to pretend you’re just taking a picture of your meal or something. There’s some photos in here at the exhibit that were pretty tricky to get.
Do you ever think about how these people you paint are still out in the world somewhere, unaware that you made art out of them?
Once in a while, I worry somebody’s going to find out. But most of the faces in the paintings aren’t detailed enough that you would recognize them. But sometimes I paint my husband and children and friends, so not everyone is a stranger.
Contemporary impressionism leans more toward realism than abstract painting. If you walk up real close to them, you see the brushstrokes and the colors, but then you step back a few feet and it all comes together. It’s not as realist as people may think, and I think that’s kind of the whole point.
How does it feel to have your art displayed in the cultural center, a place you were involved in the creation of?
It’s very gratifying. I worked for Jasper Arts for 17 years and ran it for 11. I retired about four years ago, which was a hard decision because we were right in the middle of this big project. It was so hard to do because I loved the job, but I’m glad I did it.
I still had to apply with my portfolio just like everybody else. They could have said no, and I would’ve been very crushed. But they’re doing such a great job, and I love it here.
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