Art + Design Studio: Meet Kimberly Becoat

"I keep falling into these invisible women".  

We were more than happy to visit artist, Kimberly Becoat, at her studio for a two on one chat with Ishka Designs.  A very soulful individual, Kimberly's art has a tendency to tackle the female form from a unique perspective, inspired mainly by intriguing women that you may or may not have heard about.  Her paintings range from abstract to figurative to anywhere in between all infused with a strong sense of color, form and texture.  Very much like her persona.  Her work also deals with social consciousness, news and the changing face of Brooklyn in an intuitive way.  An artist and a teacher, Kimberly's love for her students, their artwork as well as her own is quite the inspiration to us.  Hope you enjoy our interview with her as much as we did.

All photos by  Niya Bascom Photography

What country/state/city/neighbourhood do you live in?  How did you end up there?

I live in Brooklyn USA! or Planet Brooklyn as we call it! - I ended up here many years ago moving from where i grew up which is Harlem in New York. I am a rare breed - a native New Yorker! 

Wine, beer, champagne, coffee or tea?


When did you choose art as a career and why?

I chose art as career when I was about to enter high school. All of the high schools I chose were what they call in New York City "vocational" schools, including Music & Art HS , Art & Desgin HS and Graphic Arts Communication HS. Where i actually ended up was the HS of Fashion Industry. Back then I was interested in making a career in either fashion, illustration or commercial arts. When I finished high school and during college, I made the decision to go into Art Advertising. That arena was great for giving me a disciplined work ethic as an artist but it also made me realize i didn't want to create work that had confines to it. The more work I saw by artists like Elizabeth Catlett and Romare Bearden who worked in so many different art mediums fluidly, I knew i wanted to be a Fine Artist   - I didn't want anyone telling me how I needed to get out what was in my mind onto wherever I wanted to create it - I wanted to explore all that in whatever materials I pleased.

Was there ever an alternative career choice?  If yes, what was it?

My two alternative career choices were music engineering which was a very close choice for a long time or a veternarian - i love animals.

What was the first art work that you sold?  How did that sale make you feel?

The first piece of art I sold was around the time I was in high school. I was working a summer youth job at Mt. Sinai hospital and I used to draw the faces of the people I worked with for fun. A couple of the workers really dug the drawings and asked me what I charged to do a little portrait. I said "25 bucks". I made a nice chunk of extra change that summer....*laughing* - it felt great when the employees that were old enough to be my parents would show people what I did and tell others what I could do.

How has your art evolved over the years?

(Paraphrased) "I've definitely become more intuitive… not second guessing myself.  This confidence has come from continually exhibiting work.  My favorite shows to date that have been game changers for me included "There Is No Looking Glass Here" in 2011 with Kimberly Gant at Deutsche Bank.  The work, informed by text from a book, was very intuitive and spiritual.  The work was all abstract. The second one was at Mocada called "Aint I a Woman", based on Henrietta Lacks."

Who is your favorite artist?

Can't say one favorite over the other, but i will give my top 5 that always ruminate in my mind: David Hammons, Jack Whitten , Howardena Pindell, Betye Saar and Kerry James Marshall

What or who inspires you and why?

Great conversation inspires me. Especially if it's no more than 1 to 3 people. Hearing the way another thinks about subjects always gives me a new conduit on how to approach something in my work. Even if it the conversation is not directly about art  - it could be a random topic - but something will  always pop out of a good meaty conversation that can't be gained in small talk.

Pick one: kiss or a hug

Oh man….do I have to choose???  I can't.  I want kisses with hugs.

You have the total freedom to determine your own artistic direction.  How do you arrive at the point where you commit to a theme or idea?

I usually commit to a theme/idea  before the work starts - having said that I don't commit to HOW the work be constructed until i'm part the way into it. I work in an assembly line type style - especially if it is a series or work that marries to another. So while I am committed to the idea I will work out a a few pieces in various ways throughout. But I'm always committed to the orginal theme - even if the look of each piece is vastly diverse.  (Kimberly showed us current works in progress in the following gallery)

Has your cultural background influenced your art?

The degrees of that can vary, depending upon if I have already made the decision ahead of time, before the actual creation of the work – that it’s a necessary dialog that needs to be present. For example in one recent exhibiton @ MoCADA Museum there were pieces addressing migratory movement and mapping of people of color [blacks/africans] in an archeological way – sort of a "who we are/were/will be" in reference to fossils and imprint left by/from us - so the cultural influence was very present. However there are many times where what I am constructing has nothing to with my background - and it’s built in the aesthetics of it. Most times – no matter what subject I am approaching…ALL of that is working in tandem.

At what time of the day/month/year do you work best?

mid-day (11am) and into the evening...

Pick one: cons, vans, pro-keds or jordans:

Converse - ALWAYS *laughing*

Do you ever think about where a piece will end up and does that influence the outcome of the art?

No - not anymore - and that's a very brave thing to master! when I was starting out I would think about those things (where the piece will end, etc..). Now, if a curator says "this is the theme of the exhibit" I only take that as a starting point to begin my research - but when ideas come together, be it abstract or conceptual - I go with what I [think] is intuitive and feels right to me. The work comes out so much more informed to the viewer when it's not controlled.

What is the most unconventional material you've used in your work?  

Coal in it's natural form and silicone on paintings.

Any upcoming shows/exhibits to mention?

All of my shows happened in the first half of this year.  I have a few shows in the works for the Fall and Winter that are still being fleshed out - so no specifics at this time on the titles and such…. 

All photos by  Niya Bascom Photography

What is your favorite meal?  Can you cook it?  Can you send us a pic of the last meal you made?

My favorite meal is Seafood Paella! I CAN cook just have not had the time to do so in recent months...burning the oil in the art studio!

Well don't we understand that one!  So much gratitude and love to Kim for sharing her time and story with us.  You can hear Kim in her own words here on Mocada Museum's youtube page and find her on Facebook here. In the meantime, we eagerly await her next exhibit!


idi team