A magical, mystical trip

Kim Kimerling’s acrylic works capture the beauty of a meditative state

“Meditation” by Kim Kimerling

“Meditation” by Kim Kimerling

Painter Kim Kimerling’s “Meditation” presents an androgynous being sheathed in white, surrounded by darkness, engrossed in contemplative silence. The acrylic strokes are rendered with fierceness and passion. A mask covers the subject’s face. It portrays a strikingly lucid figure, yet the emotions it provokes are ones of loneliness and sadness.

“Meditation,” a wall-spanning acrylic, reflects Kimerling’s belief in the oneness of humankind, a vision he attempts to capture in his modern impressionistic artwork now on display at Backstreet Studios as part of the new gallery’s second exhibit, which also includes work by local artists Bernard Colas, Gina Lijoi-Horn and Giorgio Broullon.

Even the title of painting, “Meditation,” suggests a spiritual being that delves beyond its gender, race and even religion in search of solitude and spiritual communion. I felt a peculiar understanding of the figure’s need to be away and alone during that vulnerable moment.

“I wanted it to be all-inclusive,” Kimerling says, referring to the androgyny of the figure. “Meditation bridges all human beings.”

The 71-year-old artist has taught at a university in Africa and lived in Belize. He has also lived on Indian reservations, and considers them to be a world separate from the rest of the United States.

“In most cultures, there is meditation,” Kimerling says. “I would see particularly the elders [in Africa and on Indian reservations]—there were men and women—who would go and meditate by a tree or a rock. Most times they would stand and be very quiet.”

Another, smaller acrylic painting of Kimerling’s, “Crow Magic,” is similar to “Meditation” in its attempt to celebrate the oneness of humankind.

The painting shows a brown-skinned woman in a white dress, crouching low to the ground with legs wide apart, her arms thrown up in exuberance, a black crow perched on her left knee. The largeness of her legs and arms are exaggerated and, as in “Meditation,” Kimerling dramatizes the image through the stark contrast of light and dark. The woman, proud and powerful, seems to be on the verge of a mystical chant. Shadow people lurk in the background, dubious and dark. The ethnicity of the woman—whether Native American or African—is difficult to discern.

“Good,” Kimerling says, laughing, at the suggestion that the figure’s race is ambiguous. “A crow is magical in African lore because they consider it to be the bearer of spiritual messages. I also found that to be the case on Indian reservations. I wanted to show the oneness.”

And perhaps to reveal the power of a meditative state.

“She is listening for that magical message," Kimerling says. "The crow will bring enlightenment."