Ahead of her new show, Williams | Waits at the Smith Anderson North Gallery, California, opening 16th June, upcoming artist Kellesimone Waits talks to us about her influences and approach.
Your art, at least in part, is influenced by poetry. What particular period or poets do you particularly identify with?
I did spend a lot of time focused on William Blake and Khalil Gibran – their poetry as well as their visual art. Then from my teens to my early twenties I really went for the existential stories by Sartre and Kafka (which are much easier for me to digest than their academic writings), also a lot of Russian literature. I still love it, though, I deliberately moved intostudying sociology when I began to recognize that its effect on me had shifted. Initially, the feeling of being seen and heard, of having my way of seeing and experiencing my environment reflected back to me through these men, had been affirming. It helped to clarify, and give structure to, certain unnamed questions that I had clanging around in me. Moving away from that initial motivation I recognized that I was continuing the reading only to perpetuate and justify the sense of isolation that had initially troubled me so much. It became something I was using to nurture and cultivate a way of experiencing the world that is already my default: seeing others, my environment, and myself as some abstract construct with no true meaning – and, well, it’s not very conducive to having a happy and productive life. So, I decided to start looking into sociology. To collect some facts while continuing to investigate topics I care about like identity and human interaction; but approaching from a direction that assumes certain basics means that studies can be done, polls can be taken, conclusions can be made and certain outcomes can be expected. I still find myself wanting more, expecting more, I rarely see social issues tackled and addressed from a sociological perspective in a way that I find to be effective. I believe to truly do that would call for more overlap between social science, philosophy, and perhaps psychology as well.
These ideas, contentions, questions, curiosities – these are the starting points for my work. I don’t aim to draw conclusions about or solve social issues pictorially. I do, however, hope to insight conversation and questioning between and within the viewers.
Read complete interview http://holidayclubrecordings.co.uk/post/kellesimone-waits-interview