Kiki Gaffney

Time Code
July 7, 2023
Kiki Gaffney

You are primarily based on the East Coast in Philadelphia. What specifically about the West inspires you in your artistic practice? 


The mountains! While there are definitely mountains in Pennsylvania, they are nowhere near in scale and grandeur as the Wasatch Range. I've gotten really into hiking on my trips out west, and I think the physical challenge alongside the solitude that being in nature provides, has given me a new (and humbled) perspective on the incredible systems (both hidden and in view) that are in play in the natural environment.



Do you think the eastern and western environments blend together in your work or are they distinct ideas/influences?


There are things about the western environment that inspire me and generate ideas, but the same holds true for the natural environment where I live. It is not so much about the imagery (although the imagery is very important), but more about what is taking place in nature; what draws us in, how energy moves, what hidden communications are taking place.



You’ve mentioned your confidence in becoming an artist in your youth. What inspired you to create at that young age? Was your inspiration from nature there at the beginning of your practice?


I am not sure about the confidence part, I just knew that making art was something that fulfilled me, made me happy and excited as a child. I knew it was what I wanted to be, although I had no understanding of what that meant, or even how to achieve it as a career. With regard to nature, when I look back at older works there are elements of nature that are present - recognizable images such as trees, rivers, etc. I think I started as more of a representational artist because I didn't have the skill set yet to ask questions and develop lines of inquiry, but that came with time, persistence and (admittedly) some tough teachers in grad school. Now, the natural environment is a jumping off point for deeper inquiries, but I definitely like to include 'recognizable' imagery (trees, rocks, etc) in my work as a way to invite the viewer in. Combining this imagery with more conceptual ideas allows the viewer to develop their own thoughts about the works.



What is influencing you right now that someone looking at your work might not expect? How does it impact your practice?


What I have become more interested in recently are the hidden systems in nature, how information is communicated, what is taking place beneath the surface, the resiliency in nature, the cycle of object/decomposition/new form. The question then becomes how to represent these ideas visually? What visual 'language' can I create to convey these ideas? These are some of the ideas I am currently working on.



What are you currently working on? What is upcoming? What should we look out for?


I am so honored to have been awarded two residencies this year! I am a 2023 Land Line Artist in Residence at the Denver Botanic Gardens, and received a residency at the Montello Foundation (September 2023), so hopefully lots of interesting ideas/works will be generated!