Gina Kiel is a visual artist, illustrator and designer. Her work can be found on walls, coffee cups and iconic brands around NZ. Here she discusses colour to the colourblind, record keeping (but with magic) and seeing faces in everyday objects.
What role does the artist have in society?
So many. To challenge and confront, to beautify, to share the human experience, to connect, to bring the internal out, to communicate in a universal language, to comment on important issues, to imagine, to create magic, to help people feel things, to effect people in all the deepest ways possible.
Also, like historical record keeping but with magic, the artist’s expression of a time is a response to the past, a reflection of the now and a prediction of the future here and beyond our physical world.
How does your work comment on current social or political issues?
Recently I have been working with the amazing team at Pangeaseed Foundation, an international non-profit organization acting at the intersection of culture and environmentalism to further the conservation of our oceans through ARTivism.
I have created murals and art prints to help educate and start conversations during their global mural festivals called Sea Walls based around localised and worldwide ocean conservation issues in the face of global warming and pollution.
What themes keep reoccurring in your work and why?
Forms splitting apart, flowing/melting colours and layers upon layers. The splitting apart began with the female body, I was in a difficult time of my life and I was completely disconnected from myself, I didn’t know this at the time, but now retrospectively I can see what my subconscious was trying to communicate.
Since then, going through many harsh life lessons, experiences and getting to know my demons there has been a lot of bright colours flowing out from those split forms until the forms themselves have become made of these colours.
What’s the most memorable response you’ve had to your work?
There’s been so many, especially from children! But my recent favourite was a comment from a person saying that they loved my use of colour because they are colour blind and the colours I used are among the few that they can see well. I love this and also I find this super interesting because I wonder how do they know if they are seeing colours well if they are colour blind. ‘Seeing well’, meaning how everyone else sees them? Or ‘seeing well’ meaning what appeals to them more so than other colours? Maybe we are all colour blind to the colours we don’t enjoy. I need to do some serious researching into the world of colour blindness now.
Do you collect anything?
Currently I collect vintage knitted jerseys, purple sunglasses, heart shaped rocks, and also keys. I don’t know which doors they open but I seem to have a lot of them turning up in all kinds of places.
What’s something your brain tries to make you do and you have to will yourself not to do it?
I have severe Pareidolia at times. It’s where you see faces in everyday objects; rocks (especially rocks), landscapes, creased curtain fabric, wood grain, pizza…you name it. It gets so intense some days that I have to quickly look away before I see them see me see them.
You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What colour would you be and why?
Light lilac, it’s fresh and delicious. It can recede or it can stand out. It can be quite ironic.
In 5 words, describe the colour yellow to somebody who is blind.
Morning sun on cold skin.
Grid images, from left to right:
‘Fountain’ A mural at collective studio spaces Work Inc in Sydney, Australia.
‘Crocodile Mother’ An interior mural found in Fifi’s Cafe on Marion St, Wellington. A Collaboration with Xoe Hall
‘The Last Bloom’ A w.i.p photo by Yoshi Travel at Sea Walls Cozumel, Mexico. A mural highlighting coral as a living being.
Courtney Barnett gig poster