Lemonade Magazine: Artist Feature
by Lucy Williams
Kimberly Brooks explores issues of feminine identity, nostalgia, idolization and womanhood in her oil paintings. In her exhibition at Taylor De Cordoba, she introduced the women she literally “looked up to,” Mom’s Friends. The show features both watercolors and oil paintings depicting thewomen who helped to form her own identity while growing up in Mill Valley in the 70s.
How would you describe your work?
In this particular series, I sought to capture a time in my life when i was a child … and sort of enamored with the idea of being a grown up. I have a young daughter and I see the way she looks up at me and the way she tries on my shoes and walks around and wants to play in my make up. I feel like there’s a very special experience between a child looking up at their parent, and in particular a daughter to her mother, and sort of what it means to be a woman. It was a way for me to open all these doors that were very interesting about how to paint memory as well as painting the subject itself.
When did you get started as an artist?
I was always painting and drawing as a kid and i was always the person who designed the yearbook and everything like that. I had used graphite and pencil up until college. So essentially, i was studying issuees that deal with values in black and white. Once I introduced color it made my work very three dimensional, and that’s the time i feel i was really exercising my strength as an artist.
Do you consider feminist a bad word?
No. My mother and all her friends were raised to be stay-at-home moms, teachers or social workers. It wasn’t conceivable to them that they could be a doctor or a lawyer or any other kind of profession. So I’ve grown up very career minded. In fact, one of the big lessons I felt I learned from my mother and her friends was to get a career in order before you have a family. Not to the extent that you’re waiting until you’re 40 to start one, which is fine but not necessarily desirable– but you need to figure out who you are before you can start procreating….
What does being a woman today mean to you?
When my mother was starting out it was about family. Then during their marriages her and her friends sort of woke up and said, Gee, maybe I would like my own identity– hey, i would love a career. And then most of them ended up getting divorced – including my own parents. And my show deals with that. I’m depicting a sort of antediuvian/ before-the-fall perspective when everything seemed so fantastic and shiny on the outside amidst the hot tubs and peacock feathers and the t-shirts that said “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bycicle”. But on the inside the whole other stage of womanhood was going to emerge, and the victim of that was the family unit…. That was then. I think we’re at a very pivotal and exciting time right now. Even though I know there’s great outcry about the bad behavior of the Brittany Spears and Lindsay Lohans who are mistreating their freedom, i don’t buy it. They’re perfect anti-heros. I think we are at a very exciting and important time for women today.