DENVER — Boulder-based artist Kim Dickey’s Words are Leaves is currently on view at the MCA Denver (Denver, October 7, 2016 – January 22, 2017). The survey of Dickey’s work includes ceramics as well as diverse media including textiles and photography. The Museum states that her focus is on patterns and decorations, but she has expanded to include landscape designs and gardens. The show brings together more than 60 works spanning a three decade career.
Above image: Kim Dickey, Illusory Bouquet, 2015, glazed stoneware on concrete base, 64 x 18 inches. Photographs by Wes Magyar.
Kim Dickey: Words Are Leaves represents the breadth of Dickey’s practice, beginning with early works that are shaped by or redefine daily experience, and including more recent works that reexamine decoration. Later works manifest an idealized or alternative environment. In exploring pattern and landscape, Dickey has spent much of her career creating foliate objects and immersive installations. These works, installed together for the first time in MCA’s presentation, exemplify how the decorative can become an object, and how an object can become an environment.
Her patterns are not just limited to landscapes. Dickey sees them in fauna as well. Her exhibition includes several ceramic sculptures of animals. From Hyperallergic.
Twelve white ceramic figures stand on plinths arranged in an oval shape around the center of a gallery. The figures are covered in leaves like topiaries. The sculptures range from animals in a natural state, such as the hare scratching its front shoulder with a hind leg in “Time Out (When in Doubt Wash),” to domesticated ones such as the camel in a harness in “Traveling Companion (Endurance).” The majority of the sculptures in the installation depict animals that are either idealized or anthropomorphized, like the fox that has pinned a rabbit flat to the plinth in “Deadly Force (The Predatory).” One of the fox’s front legs is swung back, like a human arm, preparing to strike the rabbit with the staff in his paw. The staff is topped with a quatrefoil, reminiscent of the leaf shape in “Parterre.”
The oval arrangement of the installation produces a path for the visitor like the theatrical gardens in Dickey’s earlier work. From the center of the oval, the visitor gets a better view of the drawing of medieval patterns that spans the four walls of the gallery. A cloister (from the Latin “claustrum”), is a quadrangle, an architectural enclosure of outdoor space most commonly seen in monasteries. Claustrum is also a biological term, referring to a sheet of neurons in the brains of all mammals that divides the two hemispheres of the brain. The combined effect of the ceramic figures and the wall drawing in “Claustrum (Cloister)” is unsettling.
About the Artist
Kim Dickey (born 1964 in White Plains, NY) lives and works in Boulder, CO. An artist and Professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Dickey received her BFA from Rhode Island School of Design and her MFA from Alfred University. She has exhibited her work in museums such as: MASS MoCA (MA), the Everson Museum of Art (NY), the Museum of Arts and Design (NY), and the Contemporary Art Museum, Honolulu (HI), among others. Dickey has created permanent installations at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver (CO), for the Danish Ministry of Culture (DK), and a commission for the Denver International Airport (CO), in addition to many private, site-specific commissions. She has also participated in shows in Australia, Germany, Japan, Korea, Sweden, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and throughout the United States. Dickey is represented by Robischon Gallery in Denver.
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