Creating from a place of awe and wonder comes naturally to Kendall Kippley. Inspired by her own experiences, her paintings are full of beautiful colors and movement found in nature’s perfect landscapes. She is able to create powerful images that invoke contemplation between human emotion and nature, and hopes to inspire people to see the connection between us and our environment to raise awareness about the fragility of the world we live in.
Something you can’t live without?
Hot baths, Music & Mezcal
What would your theme song be?
Soon It Will Be Cold Enough to Build Fires – Emancipator
Words to live by?
The only thing constant is change.
How did you get started as an artist?
My parents created endless opportunities for me to explore the world around me, encouraging me to find my passions growing up. I was extremely lucky to be raised in a home that celebrated originality and art in all of its forms. Now that I’m older, I realize how special that is. My curiosities always led me into nature, and it was my innate response to create from the awe and wonder I observed even from a young age. I took to making things because I was always full of energy and needed an outlet that would keep me engaged and let me express myself. It was kind of my way of being heard as the middle child of three sisters. I was accepted to Denver School of the Arts at 11 years old, where I spent the next seven years in art focused curriculums learning how to draw, paint and work on installations. I started traveling internationally while pursuing my BFA at Colorado State University, and became called to transmute my experiences into large scale paintings and murals. I made one painting about ice in my undergrad, and never looked back. My love for glaciers was solidified by traveling to Iceland and exploring inside the Vatnajokull glacier first hand. Since then, each painting or mural I create is sourced from photos I took on that trip.
How would you describe your art to someone who has never seen it?
Untamed icy landscapes set into powerful motion through gesture and color, inspired by dangerous frozen places most people aren’t willing or able to go to in real life.
What is your preferred artistic weapon of choice? (Paintbrush, spray can, etc.)
Would it be too cheesy to say my heart? I believe the most basic tools we have to create lie in our ability to feel emotion. But it would be hard to create the work I do without using both a brush and a can. I have fallen in love with the practice of spray painting. It has evolved my techniques and allows me to create work at an amazing scale!
What are your favorite colors to work with?
It’s probably pretty easy to guess which colors are my favorite being that my subject matter is ice. I love exploring these complex forms through many shades of blue, gray, white and purple.
What does your creative process look like when starting a new piece?
I usually start concepting a piece by writing ideas down in my journal, typically in the form of lists, words I’m inspired by, emotions I’m feeling or random, broken thoughts I’ve had. Sometimes these find themselves in the work, but often it’s just a way for me to capture an emotion that I want to portray in the painting. My paintings are more about movement and mood than anything else. When approaching a blank wall or canvas, it’s all about setting the tone with emotion and music. If I’m in the studio I always light candles, and have a specific ritual to set up my palette and workspace. I believe in having habits and formulas that make it easier to connect to my highest creative self to find flow, the same way an athlete sets themselves up for a competition.
Your work is clearly influenced by nature. What is it specifically that inspires you to create the type of art you do?
Besides its clear beauty, I am interested in nature’s ability to elicit powerful emotions and compel us into deep contemplation of the environment and ourselves. Each painting I make is a search for the true relationship between human emotion and nature, exploring their parallel power and fragility. I am inspired by my own sublime experiences of nature and I am driven to communicate them through my paintings.
How do you think art impacts (or can impact) our environment?
Currently I don’t think art has the impact that it could on our environment, I often contemplate the methods and materials it requires to create and how those often negatively impact our climate. (Empty paint cans, toxic chemicals, etc.) I take extreme responsibility and pride in how I dispose of these and use them in my work. I strive to be a conscious creator. Right now, I am learning how artists observe, and respond to changes in our environment due to climate change and what kinds of voices are already speaking up with their work and how they are impacting climate conversations. Art has an intrinsic ability to shape, power, and transform our world just like water carves landscapes and is the interconnection of all life. My artwork is driven by my emotional connection to nature, and I hope that by continuing this work I will find a way of communicating that will inspire others to take action so we don’t experience the heartbreak of an unrecognizable climate in the upcoming generations.
Can you tell us a little about Protect Our Winters and your involvement with them?
Protect Our Winters is a 501 nonprofit that focuses its efforts on legislation regarding climate change. It was created in 2007 by professional snowboarder Jeremy Jones, and strives to turn outdoor enthusiasts into climate advocates through creative and compelling initiatives. Their headquarters is in Boulder, CO. but they have a worldwide impact and are clear leaders as we all learn to adapt in a rapidly changing climate and strive for a more sustainable future. I am a member of their Creative Alliance, which involves artists of varied disciplines from all over the country. We assist POW in its efforts to raise awareness in accordance with their action plans by creating unique project proposals designed to engage voters and anyone who loves and benefits from the outdoors. I am proud to be on a team of athletes, artists, and activists that all care about protecting the places and lifestyles we love. My recent work with POW involves a two story mural installation at 1035 Pearl Street in Boulder as a component of StreetWise Mural festival, which is rooted in activism through the arts. I created a composition that illustrates the national report for the permanent loss of arctic sea ice over the last forty years with data provided by CU Boulders, NSIDC (National Snow and Ice Data Center). The result is a permanently installed giant painted glacier in the heart of Boulder titled “You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone”. This project was at the intersection of all my passions including activism, climate science, and art. I am extremely honored to have partnered with these organizations on this project to elevate our shared passions and message.
Do you feel particularly attached to any specific piece that you’ve done?
I was recently featured in “Water is Life” a group exhibition illuminating the significance of water from a spiritual lens but also as a vital resource at the Dairy Arts Center, curated by Jaycee Beyale. For this show, I created a three piece canvas painting titled “Don’t Let Me Go”, Which marks a new direction in my work and a further development in the concepts I am really eager to explore. This piece is intended to move its viewer into sympathy through its use of language embedded in the painting of a calving glacier. Its purpose is to connect the irretrievable loss of this frozen landscape as it melts at an alarming and permanent rate, to the pain and grief of lost love and heartbreak. I want the viewer to connect to the disappearing ice in my painting through their own personal experience of loss and longing.
What kind of an effect do you hope your art has on people?
I want to access people intimately, using their own powerful emotional experiences to unite us as humans so that we can tackle larger issues from a unified perspective and the same bottom line. We are all vulnerable, fragile, lonely, and broken at times, but we are also brave, powerful, hopeful, and in love at times. I believe that our deepest personal healing comes from developing our relationship to ourselves and these emotions. If we start to think of bigger issues from the same place as we derive our emotional decisions from, I think there would be more unity in our solutions as a collective.
We’ve all been there. Butterflies throughout your body when you’re with someone you love, or seeing a beautiful new place for the first time, that feeling of energy and excitement. I want that feeling reflected in my work, juxtaposed by the lonely heartbroken, cold, undeniable grief, gut wrenching feeling when you lose something or someone you love. This is the context I explore in my work “Don’t Let Me Go” where I believe the viewer can look at it and instantly feel the connection to heartbreak at a personal level, while at the same time understanding the larger issue of losing our natural resources due to climate change. If my work speaks to you or makes you feel something, I’ve done my job.
Who are some of your favorite artists right now?
I have always been a huge fan of Zaria Foreman who uses oil pastels to photorealistically capture arctic glaciers in an ethereal way. I am forever inspired by Marilyn Minter, Beau Carey along with many of my fellow Denver based artists, we have a vibrant arts community and I am humbled to be a part of it.
What’s in store next for you that our readers can look out for?
I recently displayed artwork in the first art exhibit to exist at the US center for COP27 Egypt. I am excited to share documentation of this project on my socials and website when they become available, this was an incredible honor to be selected for this opportunity of exemplary art redirecting conversations around climate in the US.
Locally, I will be installing a new icy mural during the winter months for the RiNo Mural Program in partnership with the outdoor apparel brand, Arc’teryx at their new storefront in Denver. (Come say hi and bring hot chocolate or mezcal please) I always have stickers on me to handout and love to talk to anyone inspired by my work, snowboarding, music, or nature!
For more information about Protect Our Winters: https://protectourwinters.org/