Stoop Story 07: Kirsten Kainz
The Architect’s Wife has always been focused internally on showcasing our showroom space and the artists, creators, or makers within it. But given the current circumstances, we’re learning to shift our focus and connect with people in new ways. More importantly, we want to shine a light on craftspeople and the creativity they contribute to our community. In this “Stoop Stories” series, The Architect’s Wife visits friends and makers to share how they’re staying in/spired.
Let us introduce you to Kirsten Kainz – a metalsmith, a painter, a sculptor and a creator of all kinds of forms and creatures. Kirsten finds inspiration in many places brings pieces off all sizes and shapes together to conjure up a whole new anatomy of art – giving ‘junk’ a new life.
“Some people might think junk is ‘kitschy’ but I also think that kitsch is beautiful if it gives you a feeling in your heart.”
We enjoyed exploring Kirsten’s workspace “hoarders paradise” (as she dubbed it) for an afternoon and hope her collection of work generates some curiosity and a new way of looking at ‘junk’.
Tell us what you do. How did you fall into your craft?
Creating things has always felt right to me. I have had formal training in college, but my style and methods developed over the years as I have pursued my work. It’s more of me following the beauty than me trying to recreate beauty. When I lived in Vermont after college I work in an art gallery and in blacksmith shop where I did ornamental ironwork. The gallery owner asked me to make her a funky “junk railing” for her design center. We drove together to the junkyard to collect metal for the project. After sifting through the mountains of metal, something went off in me like a rocket after that. The railing was very nice and I became a regular customer in junkyards. When I see the mountains of metal I am seeing hundreds of exciting shapes, forms, and even whole sculptures. For me, it’s like seeing piles of treasure. I love coaxing my creations out of the metal. I also sparked up an interest in painting when I realized I want to start up a family. I needed another tributary for my work. Welding and little babies are not a great mix. Also Montana winters are a bit brisk for welding. So I bought the paint and canvas and started painting. I painted whenever I could while I also created my four girls and kept a steady pace on sculpting when it was safe. I worked and reworked so many canvases as I developed my moves. I just kept pushing. I just keep pushing. I love my metalwork and I love painting. I get different types of beauty from each method.
What does an average routine day look like for you?
It’s a six-ring circus, I get all of my four girls up and out the door for school, tidy the house, take care of all the animals. Drop the girls off then head to the workshop and start to channel the creative energy, if I can. I paint or sculpt as intensely as I can manage until 3pm when I go back to the real world and pick up the kids which takes almost two hours of driving. I usually have cinders or paint on my face and burnt clothing as I line up with the other Mothers to collect my kids. Then of course dinner and clean up. I go to bed tired and can’t wait to get back to work my work again, especially when I am working on something awesome.
Where do you find inspiration?
I love museums – and I also feel like I see amazing work all over the place. If its got soul and a certain mastery I can feel inspired by it.
What have you been up to during quarantine?
I am homeschooling the kids so no work or very little for me. I have enjoyed not having to run around so much and being able to chill with the girls. That has been nice. I had to hire someone to keep my commissioned work going in my shop. It’s is challenging to transfer the nuances of my aesthetic when I am not there to keeping a constant eye on the progress. I just went in periodically to amputate bad areas and rebuild them. Same as always just find away.
What’s something you’ve been working on your excited about?
I have a large gorgeous shiny brass chandelier for a hotel lobby that I am developing. It is made of almost 100 multi-sized hand-forged brass concave disks. The disks are hung from chains and look like falling drops of water. They will move with the changing air currents which will reveal their bling. A multitude of lights will be scattered within the cluster of golden disks. I have a giant 90 x 50 canvas landscape painting I am working on for another hotel. It’s challenging to work so so large, but I am excited about the freedom of the space if I can pull it off.
What’s something one might not know about you?
I really love Evel Knievel, profession daredevil. I just got dirt bikes for all of my kids, we are starting a moto gang.
Anything else you’d like to share?
To anyone feeling the urge to create or make something, just start doing it. Don’t hesitate – buy the canvas, paint it, paint over it – 100 times! It doesn’t have to be awesome the first time. Just start and hopefully you wont want to stop and your magic will finally end up appearing. So go for it!
The Architect’s Wife is focused on sharing togetherness, inspired spaces, and warmth in any capacity we can generate it. Here we shine a light on craftspeople and the creativity they contribute to our community.