In Conversation: Kim Keever and Arte Realizzata

Kim Keever is a Miami, FL-based artist, focusing on underwater art, a concept he envisioned and curated by utilizing his knowledge in engineering, science, and art. He studied Engineering at Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA, and worked briefly for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). In the mid-70s he changed career paths and followed his passion for art. Keever was a painter for many years; however, he felt he could not add to history as a painter. He started making models and photographing them on a table but felt the results lacked the “atmosphere” of imagination. Strengthening his passion for art he combined his background in engineering and science to bring a unique art form where results are never the same; underwater art.

Kim Keever created underwater art by using fluid flow dynamics; he started building landscapes and various objects made from plaster, placing the items into the water tank, and carrying out the process by dropping paint pigments into the water. With this technique, he creates a new environment, and a special diffused glow gives an aesthetic appeal that he captures with his camera. Kim believes art is constantly evolving, and he aesthetically practices new ideas and develops new models.

Kim has exhibited his artwork widely in art spaces such as galleries and museums internationally, in places such as Winston Wachter Fine Art, the Louvre, Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Waterhouse & Dodd Gallery, and more. His artwork has been featured in numerous publications internationally, such as Monarch Magazine, Better Photography, New York Times, Art and Object, and many more.

His artwork is in Public Collections such as Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC, Museum of Modern Art, NYC, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY, Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA, Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, VA, West Collection, Oaks, PA, Nassau County Museum of Fine Art, Roslyn, NY, Patterson Museum, Patterson, NJ,  George Washington University Gallery, Washington DC, Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, KS Elgin Community College, Elgin, IL.

I had the pleasure and honor of asking Kim about how vivid his images are and how he creates them at a large scale, what his favorite lens is when he knew he wanted to pursue an art career, and so much more.

UZOMAH: Your images are so vivid and realistic, can you describe how you create your colorful large-scale abstractions? 

KIM: I pour paint into a 200-gallon aquarium filled with water. The paint moves around and goes its own way after a few seconds. That is the only control I have besides physical elements I put into the tank on occasion, to guide the paint as it falls through the water. 

Abstract 74855, 28x28, 44x44, 2023

U: How does your engineering degree and working for NASA impact your artistic direction?

K: Oddly enough, I had a course in fluid dynamics in graduate school engineering. One would not necessarily need that kind of background but for me, it has always come in handy. Also, I have constructed many models in front of the tank, in the tank, and even behind the tank over the years. My engineering certainly helped me with these projects.

Abstract 75019, 30x28, 46x44, 2023

U: What is your favorite lens when capturing images you create in the 200-gallon tank of water in your studio?

K: I only use a “normal” lens. Not only does it give the best quality but a zoom lens is not needed.

U: When did you know you wanted to pursue art and no longer be an engineer?

K: I always thought I would stay in engineering and make my fortune, so to speak, and then become an artist. Though I didn’t spend a lot of time at NASA, I realized I really didn’t want to be an engineer, and I really wanted to be an artist full-time. I always loved making art throughout school and I was even able to major in art in high school.

Abstract 75545, 28x28, 44x44, 2023

U:  How do you choose colors when you create?

K: I have various bottles of color in the studio and occasionally I just mix them together. I don’t think about which colors to use. I just grab a few bottles and get to work. Sometimes when I’m out and about, I’ll see combinations of colors in the landscape or in fashion exhibitions that seem interesting and I’ll make those colors in my studio.

U: How does science go into mixing the colors and the water?

K: There isn’t much science in mixing the colors aside from knowing which colors when combined will produce other colors. It doesn’t seem to matter so much anyway, because once the colors are released into the water, They disperse and combine in new ways that I couldn’t have predicted. You could say they mix themselves after the initial pour.

Abstract 75292, 28x31, 44x49, 2023

U:  What makes a good photo or painting?

K: That’s really personal to the viewer I would have to say. You can learn a lot by talking to people in the art world, going to art museums and exhibitions, and browsing the Internet.

U: Is there anything you wish you knew before switching careers?

K: That’s a great question. Though I totally love what I do, I wish I knew how hard it would be. You could say I wouldn’t have had the nerve to make the attempt. Success has not been easy to come by but I’ve made tremendous progress in the last 10 years.

Abstract 75033, 28x37, 44x59, 2023

U: Can you name the hardest thing about being an artist?

K: Acceptance. The art world tends to be very fashionable, which doesn’t really attend to the quality of the work. When you look at art history, there are so many artists who really didn’t do well in their time, but eventually became appreciated. For whatever reasons they were ignored during their lives.

U: Why art? Why now?

K: It is truly endless the way you could conceive of living your life and dreams. You make that choice every day with the abilities you have, and the times you live in.

For more information about Kim’s artwork please visit his site here. Kim is also on Instagram and can be found here.


Click here to read the conversation on Arte Realizzata

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