Interview with artist Kesha Bruce

Interview with artist Kesha Bruce

In this episode of The Truth In This Art, Rob interviewed Kesha Bruce, painter & storyteller, and they discuss her work, process and inspiration, and upcoming exhibition, Take Me To The Water at Morton Fine Art in DC starting September 17th.

00;00;10;11 - 00;00;30;04
Rob Lee
Well, welcome to the truth in this art. I am your host, Rob Lee. Today, I have the privilege of being in conversation with an artist, curator and storyteller whose work explores the complex connections between history and the magical spiritual belief in the African diaspora. Please welcome Kesha Bruce. Welcome to the podcast.

00;00;31;00 - 00;00;34;07
Kesha Bruce
Thank you, Rob. Hello, Baltimore. Howdy.

00;00;35;19 - 00;00;58;21
Rob Lee
Yeah, to be a big so again, you know, thank you for coming on and being able to spend a year with me indulging my questions. And before we get too deep into the weeds, into the woods, you know this conversation I want to ask you to share. Share your story. Share the Kiesha Bruce story. And really, what was your first experience with art like?

00;00;58;21 - 00;01;02;24
Rob Lee
Whether it is doing art, making art, appreciating art. Tell me about that.

00;01;03;23 - 00;01;27;04
Kesha Bruce
That's funny. I haven't thought about this in ages, but this is immediately popped into my head when I was maybe four or five years old. I was in my room drawing and this is how my mother tells the story, that it was real quiet in my room. So of course she got suspicious. She hadn't seen me for a few minutes.

00;01;27;15 - 00;01;46;05
Kesha Bruce
So she came comes back down the hall into my bedroom, and she sees me sitting on the floor drawing. And I was drawing this clown or something. It was a picture that was on the wall in my bedroom as décor in our bedroom. And she said it was she would never see me so focused and so just like content.

00;01;46;22 - 00;02;09;04
Kesha Bruce
And she took that after I was done, she took and she framed it. I don't know what happened to it, but I just remember that moment and in her say, yes, she was just she's always been creative. And so I don't know, I'm sure everybody has a story like that. But yeah, I drew a little clown with the pencil and the rest is art history.

00;02;09;20 - 00;02;23;26
Rob Lee
I'm sure that there is a proto version of my parents having Rob Lee's first microphone or something goofy, some really weird tape of me trying to rant. There is several tapes of me rapping. I'm sure none of them are good. They're all bad.

00;02;24;14 - 00;02;26;14
Kesha Bruce
They're keeping those 30 bananas. Yeah.

00;02;27;25 - 00;02;34;00
Rob Lee
Let's just. Burnham, let's just say, look, they didn't. It didn't happen. Can we press rewind literally on my experience. What recording.

00;02;35;15 - 00;02;35;24
Kesha Bruce
So.

00;02;36;03 - 00;02;46;23
Rob Lee
So talk about a little bit about like like growing up. Where did you grow up? What was some of your education and some of those like integral moments of your your career as an artist?

00;02;47;10 - 00;03;06;06
Kesha Bruce
Yeah. This is I always like to tell people that is they never believe me. I'm from Iowa. I grew up in Des Moines, Iowa. I was actually born in Palo, which is a tiny, tiny Dutch colony. Like proper Dutch like the entire phone book starts with van der something. But my mom was going to college at Central College there, and so I grew up in Des Moines.

00;03;06;06 - 00;03;22;06
Kesha Bruce
That's where my parents are both from. And I'm I'm a really I was a late bloomer to art. I didn't, you know, besides that, you know, draw all kids draw all kids love art because it just comes natural to children before they're told to stop and not do that.

00;03;22;12 - 00;03;22;21
Rob Lee
This is.

00;03;22;21 - 00;03;42;29
Kesha Bruce
True. But I never took art classes. I never did like I was never one of those talented, gifted kids that took art classes doing art center, anything like that. I just that wasn't my thing. And I don't think I took a serious art class until I was in high school. I just really dug it because I got to do that instead of being like the study hall in the lunchroom.

00;03;43;08 - 00;04;13;27
Kesha Bruce
And so I just, you know, I did that and said, oh my, if I study how I went to the art the art room to work on, I actually I took a jewelry class first, jewelry, jewelry, sculpture. And just like basic, like required classes. And I wasn't good. I wasn't especially good. That's like it's not like I had some, you know, you have those people that are like prodigies are like, oh, they get all the attention and accolades that I was I was not that kid that won the state competition and got the blue ribbon.

00;04;13;27 - 00;04;27;07
Kesha Bruce
I didn't do any of that. I did not. I were I really came into my creativity much later on, my own process and all of that. I mean, it worked out. All right.

00;04;28;11 - 00;04;59;21
Rob Lee
I like that you're saying that. I mean, that's that's the kind of the thing like with with this and being like doing it for doing like podcasting. It's this is my craft for almost 14 years and not sure, like if I've gotten good at it because I haven't scaled I haven't reached these different validation markers that people put in front of you, but but I ended up going back to an art is a sort of art that I did when I was younger.

00;04;59;21 - 00;05;15;00
Rob Lee
I was into comics. I wanted to be a comic book writer in a comic book, like I want to be an illustrator. And I was able to and I guess in doing podcasts that opened me up to trying to do other things and kind of revisiting stuff that I was doing. So yeah, I definitely kind of connect to that.

00;05;15;27 - 00;05;36;18
Kesha Bruce
Yeah. And also I just think, I think it just really I love to tell folks that I was a late bloomer because I think there is this misconception that if you're an artist, you're just naturally gifted and that's how you ended up being that way. I wasn't like, I'm legit. Not gifted at drawing, and I will tell you that anytime you ask me, I suck at drawing.

00;05;38;06 - 00;05;57;23
Kesha Bruce
I'm a painter, right? I'm just a great guy. I like to draw. What are you talking about? And it took me a long time to find my way, and. But that's it. That's. That was my path. Other people have a different path, but whatever your path to your creativity, to your practice is completely valid.

00;05;58;13 - 00;06;06;14
Rob Lee
1%. Could you share from from your vantage point, obviously, the differences between imagination and creativity?

00;06;06;27 - 00;06;40;15
Kesha Bruce
I loved this question because it was so close right there for me. When I think of imagination, I think of like daydreaming and witches and something magical. And when I think of creativity, I think of something that I feel like I could do, like I could imagine flying, but I that's not something I could make sense. So I do think that imagination feeds into creativity.

00;06;40;15 - 00;07;02;24
Kesha Bruce
I think that I think it's a necessary part. But I also think that one of the biggest elements of creativity is curiosity. What my my approach to so many things in the studio is what would happen if like, what if I tried this? What if I would have like this exact yeah, that's how I get to any end result.

00;07;02;24 - 00;07;15;16
Kesha Bruce
It's just experimenting and being extremely, genuinely curious about. I've never done it this way before. What would it what would happen is that and it's like a weird, tingly, exciting feeling. It's like, ooh, let me try, you know.

00;07;15;29 - 00;07;18;26
Rob Lee
A creative spider sense. Yeah, it sounds rather.

00;07;19;10 - 00;07;32;16
Kesha Bruce
Yeah, it really does feel like that. It does feel like this. It's very, it's a visceral thing. Like, you're like, Ooh, let me try this and that. It's always like, that's the thing that gets you going. And then you have the momentum and then you find your way.

00;07;33;02 - 00;07;54;08
Rob Lee
I like to try to incorporate and maybe this is the same for you possibly where I like to incorporate certain challenges in there for just for the sake of trying something in a different way. For instance, I came out of my normal studio. I'm in, I'm in a remote studio today, and I found a way to always forget something, but to see if I can.

00;07;54;08 - 00;08;04;20
Rob Lee
MacGyver That situation, it's like, okay, I'm going to make this happen. Let me get a toothpick for a seashell. That's a microphone. Got it.

00;08;04;29 - 00;08;07;24
Kesha Bruce
You got to do what you got to do. But yeah.

00;08;08;16 - 00;08;23;00
Rob Lee
So I would be remiss if I didn't tap into this one. I want to learn a little bit about your process. So could you walk us through your process and there's a there's a second bullet point, but I'm going to least let you start off there. The second bullet point that ties it to something. But yeah, please.

00;08;23;13 - 00;08;53;21
Kesha Bruce
What my process is, I like to say I have a very, very, very long creative on ramp. I can't unfortunately, I can't just be like, let me go to my studio and make a painting today. That's not how it works for me. Usually it starts with one. I have to rest and be refilled enough and that I even have something to say that I even get the urge to even go to the studio and not saying that I go when I'm really inspired, but I do not go when I'm exhausted.

00;08;53;26 - 00;09;13;11
Kesha Bruce
So and so part of my process is getting in the right headspace like that, so much of it. And so that starts with, you know, taking care of myself. I clean my house, I do my laundry, I do yard work, I walk my dog, my dog about like I have to do all these things before that. The fancy art creative part even starts.

00;09;13;28 - 00;09;41;11
Kesha Bruce
And then when I'm in the studio, I'm really just messing around, I'm just warming up. And so much of my process is again trying to get in that flow state, the state where you are open to to try new to try new paths to an idea. All of that takes momentum. And for me, it takes a long time and I just build that into my working process.

00;09;42;16 - 00;10;00;21
Rob Lee
Yeah. And I think knowing that is important, you know, people talk about scales and when it comes to musicians and things of that nature, I, I have to, I try to get better recently because I know that something wasn't working, it wasn't fitting because I could go back to back to back and I was like, man from 37.

00;10;00;21 - 00;10;06;26
Rob Lee
Now I'm going to slow that down. I got to rest. I'll get a rest. The old wrote the rest, the old mouth or whatever. That sounds weird, but.

00;10;08;13 - 00;10;08;17
Kesha Bruce
I.

00;10;08;23 - 00;10;32;12
Rob Lee
Really kind of reset because you're having these conversations in. There is a lot to process out of them. Like people that are intimate, you know, that are baked into their work and you're understanding a lot of different things. And I think it's interesting to use use the term flow state because it sends me to my next question is compare your process in any way to water or not.

00;10;32;12 - 00;10;55;17
Kesha Bruce
You're not sure. That's such a good question. And I think it is. I mean, the metaphors abound, right? Like the way I work is so intuitive and it is complete me controlled by my energy levels which ebb and flow. Somedays I got it somebody they don't somedays I there the waves are more of the ideas are more powerful.

00;10;55;17 - 00;11;19;26
Kesha Bruce
Sometimes they're more subtle. And the thing I really I mean, the thing that I love to try to give myself is the ability to just be like not try to control have you can't control the ocean, right? Like keep like how like right. And so some days I'll go into the studio and I'll be like, you know, I like I like to set up projects for myself.

00;11;19;26 - 00;11;47;04
Kesha Bruce
I love a good deadline. You can ask my art dealer to give me a date, and I'm going to deliver for you. Right. I love a good deadline, but you also got to give the work the time that it needs so you can't rush it. There is a divine timing built into the work because when I'm making the work, I'm a person like you were saying, you can't do these episodes back to back to back to back my 25 anymore either.

00;11;47;04 - 00;12;15;17
Kesha Bruce
Right. I'm running up on 50 years old. I've developed my process over, you know, the last 20 years and and I noticed there's a slow down, but intentionally so. And I think, you know, you just have to flow with the energy you have where you are at this point in your life, wherever you are in your your career and your creative process will ebb and flow and it will change the way you did something ten years ago may not work anymore.

00;12;16;07 - 00;12;25;10
Kesha Bruce
And I try to give myself a lot of grace. Yeah. That's like I'm not the same person I was ten years ago. Why would my process be identical? Absolutely right.

00;12;26;02 - 00;12;33;09
Rob Lee
And I hear the whole thing about painters. They're they're never really done. They never finish a painting. They're never you know, they're just not painting.

00;12;33;09 - 00;12;40;24
Kesha Bruce
And I often I have to because the the truck is coming to pick up the paintings today. And that's one of.

00;12;40;24 - 00;12;58;13
Rob Lee
The things to me, I think as I as I hear this other piece of the other other statement around, like artists, they and creatives, they work within the time that's permitted. So you have some people who are procrastinators and some people like I'm a need this deadline but I'm a wait until I got like 4 hours left because I work better.

00;12;59;18 - 00;13;24;21
Kesha Bruce
I just talked about this on my Instagram today. Like, why do we do this to ourselves? My blood pressure can't handle it. My nervous system like y you know, the deadline is coming. You have a calendar. Why are you doing this? And and I I'm really digging into that because I also think there's something there. It's not just procrastination is not there's always a reason behind the procrastination.

00;13;24;21 - 00;13;47;24
Kesha Bruce
Right. Sometimes you're procrastinating because you're afraid you you don't you're not going to get it. Right. Some of that's perfectionism and some of it is you just need more time to think different because the making of the work is not always the actual making of the work. It's the thinking about the work. It's laying in bed, making my best friend and I, we were I told her, you know, each other for, I don't know, going on ten, 15 years more than that.

00;13;48;10 - 00;14;05;09
Kesha Bruce
And I was like, do you follow me? Do you make paintings in your head or is that just me? She's like, Oh, I thought I was the only one. And we talked about everything, but we never talked. We both made paintings in our heads and so like, doesn't that count? Can you clock in for that time? I made this paintings in my head.

00;14;06;22 - 00;14;14;12
Kesha Bruce
You know, it's complicated. You know, I don't turn on my artist. I don't turn my artist brain on and off. It's always happening. So.

00;14;15;15 - 00;14;46;08
Rob Lee
Yeah, I, I find that if I'm because part of the process I've put into it from, I think the hardest thing for me like doing this, just having a conversation that's just me, just, you know, in the pocket, as it were, which sounded very D.C., but no shade. Okay, but, but it's, you know, really me being in a pocket, whereas when I'm getting to that point in a trade to change it up a little bit, coming up with questions and trying to keep the questions unique and interesting and doing the research that makes the guests that day.

00;14;46;08 - 00;15;11;13
Rob Lee
And how do you find that out? That that's the thing that that interests me because I want to be curious. I want to have I want to have somebody think of something maybe in a different way than they've done before. So coming up with those questions and if you have a schedule like I do of I might do 15 interviews in a week, it's like you don't want to ask the same person, same question and all of that different stuff because you want you want a certain answer.

00;15;11;13 - 00;15;13;13
Rob Lee
You want to for me, I want to impress myself.

00;15;14;07 - 00;15;40;03
Kesha Bruce
Yeah, I was going to say isn't part of it again this curiosity, right? Like you don't want to ask the same questions over and over, right? Because I don't think they would really. Because I think the whole point of a good question is to prompt some storytelling or some some revelation about the work or the person, or that will give you an interesting for a listener.

00;15;40;03 - 00;15;54;10
Kesha Bruce
Right. And I think that, you know, I'm always thinking about storytelling and in my work and it's it comes natural to some folks. I love telling stories because I think stories how we how we know each other. It's how we know each other.

00;15;54;20 - 00;16;04;27
Rob Lee
I like to fashion what I do and I've described it this way because people say, Oh, you're storytellers. I know I facilitate people telling their stories. I just hope that direction of, Hey, what about this?

00;16;05;10 - 00;16;05;16
Kesha Bruce
Yeah.

00;16;05;27 - 00;16;24;11
Rob Lee
You know, know what to add, know what to remove. And with that, I want to go into this this next question because, you know, big things are popping. Big things are happening. Tell us about your faith. I believe this is the eighth I'm reading an exhibition with with more of a fine art taking me the water. Tell me about that.

00;16;24;12 - 00;16;29;01
Rob Lee
Tell us about that. And I got a part B to that, but I at least want to start off there.

00;16;29;14 - 00;17;00;17
Kesha Bruce
So Amy Morton is just a gem of a human being. I adore her. I like the way we met. I have to tell a story about the way we met just because I think it's really special and it speaks to the type of person type of people that we both are. I actually emailed her because I wanted to interview her about her experience in the art world for an e-book that I was writing more than a decade ago now, when people were still hot and heavy within books, right?

00;17;01;12 - 00;17;20;12
Kesha Bruce
So I interviewed her and we started talking. And again, because of the questions I asked her, we got into this conversation and then something. It was just magic. It was just that perfect magic thing. It's when you ask the right questions and you get into again, get into the flow. And then I was like, What a nice lady didn't think anything of it.

00;17;20;28 - 00;17;33;13
Kesha Bruce
And she was like, I will tell you, work about these pieces. And I was like, Oh yeah. She's like, Would you be interested in showing it? I was like, Sure. And the rest again. And the rest is history.

00;17;33;21 - 00;17;34;28
Rob Lee
Our history specifically.

00;17;35;09 - 00;17;56;12
Kesha Bruce
Yeah, she really we, you know, she really allowed me to show a lot of work that I didn't really think I would really have a place for at that time. I had not been officially on the roster of a gallery before. And I lot of I've worked with a lot of galleries but never found one that was a good fit.

00;17;56;12 - 00;18;09;23
Kesha Bruce
And so finding her was pretty magical. And I always joke that if I had like six more of her, I could just like, you know, I would just be like, Boom, that's it. It's cranking out the paintings. Just kidding. I don't think.

00;18;12;07 - 00;18;18;23
Rob Lee
So. You because your process is one that you're putting in some intention. You're putting in there at that time with it. Yes.

00;18;18;24 - 00;18;38;22
Kesha Bruce
My process is so ridiculous. Like when when I go into my studio and I look at albums, there are thousands of tiny squares of fabric in my studio going and there and I've been making these and adding to the collection. It's like I use them all and make some more. I'm always making these things. I cannot stop making these patches.

00;18;38;22 - 00;19;01;05
Kesha Bruce
I've been doing this in that studio space. In studio space in Mesa, Arizona. I've been doing that five years worth of patches. I have a whole show. It's like it looks like a catalog. It's just baskets upon baskets of the different that I rent. So my process is get fabric, clothing, pieces don't buy it. Fabric finds its way to me.

00;19;01;06 - 00;19;04;05
Kesha Bruce
I'm like the fabric genie and another magnet.

00;19;04;05 - 00;19;04;22
Rob Lee
Yeah, yeah.

00;19;04;22 - 00;19;26;07
Kesha Bruce
I just. I just I honestly, I had a friend of a friend of a friend knew a guy who bought a building that the bottom of the it was a fabric warehouse. And he was like, I got to empty out this building. You guys want it like, I'm serious. Like, my fabric finds its way to me. And so I start by ripping the fabric.

00;19;26;13 - 00;19;48;17
Kesha Bruce
Well, sometimes I paint on it. Sometimes I write like little sentences, affirmations, prayers, sigils, symbols on them. But mostly the I do a lot of ripping them into squares and that takes forever. So I'll never do it until my fingers are sore, is very meditative. And I also think that somehow that when I'm doing that, the way that I focus my energy somehow energizes the fabric and the fibers.

00;19;48;24 - 00;20;05;13
Kesha Bruce
I swear the fibers of the fabric are different. Yeah, it's blended with a thousand pieces of fabric that I have to paint. Now, you would think I would do it the other way around. Paint one big piece of fabric and rip it. No, it doesn't work that way. I don't make the rules. Okay, so that's not the order of the spell, right?

00;20;05;13 - 00;20;25;10
Kesha Bruce
Like, it's just I have these rituals and they are rituals, right? I'm not a very disciplined person, but I love a good ritual. And that's what has really helped me get my work done, is to find these rituals that work for me and for me that that process of ripping those pieces is so meditative in such a loving state.

00;20;25;10 - 00;20;58;25
Kesha Bruce
Again, that flow state where it's just me ripping and ripping, ripping and stacking and reorganizing, ripping, stacking and reorganizing is like my favorite thing to do. And then eventually I make some paintings, the piece. But that's really the very, very, very last step, right? Like it's really the culmination of months and hundreds of hours of making these very tiny pieces, which some of them are so beautiful, I believe they could stand on their own as pieces in their own right.

00;20;58;25 - 00;21;19;10
Kesha Bruce
Right. Yeah. My process is that's been my process, probably the ripping, the patches, making the pieces, the patches for the last five years. Of course I do works on paper. I do, I do a lot of collage, but the work that I do now is also collage in a lot of ways. I'm piecing these fabric pieces together, so it's all the it's all the work.

00;21;19;15 - 00;21;20;07
Kesha Bruce
It's all the work.

00;21;20;26 - 00;21;45;27
Rob Lee
So with the upcoming exhibition, Take Me to the Water, how, how and where we where are you at? In within having that is the process. And like where you at at this stage within the process, what is this current like status like? What are the themes that are associated with this exhibition? What are some of the words that come to mind when you think about the work that went into this exhibition there?

00;21;45;28 - 00;22;12;11
Kesha Bruce
Okay, so take me to the water. There's so many entry points. Now, of course, this had to be the title of the show. One. The most obvious is there's a performance that Nina Simone's doing singing Take Me to the Water. And I forget what it's a college performance and it's a live performance. And she's on stage. And if you look at the extended video on YouTube, even at the end when she gets up and start dancing in the rest of the band is playing.

00;22;12;18 - 00;22;37;00
Kesha Bruce
It's just magic. And you're going to hear me use that word like ten times that, that moment where she's just like the way she's completely in her body. And, like, it's just. It was just such a joy to watch. So there was that. But the idea of, I mean, there's so much around water, as I've always, you know, coming from the Midwest we don't we just you lucky if you're near lake, right?

00;22;37;19 - 00;23;08;29
Kesha Bruce
The ocean seems like magic to me. And it's such a rare it's such a just it's such a treat to even just lay eyes on in the sound and all of that. So in last year I took a road track of the by myself with well, with my dog. I would say we with my dog Pearl up the Pacific Highway, one of the Pacific Coast, all the way from I drove from Arizona to California and we drove all the way up the coast to Seattle alone.

00;23;09;02 - 00;23;49;10
Kesha Bruce
And I just over the course of like a week, four or five days, maybe. And part of the reason I did that was because I was in deep, deep, deep grief over the death of my mother. That last year was now one year anniversary of her death and her birthday. She died three days after her birthday. And so my waves, I was trying to run from my grief, but I ran to the water because I just had this notion that being at the beach, I just knew intrinsically that being near the water was the thing that was going to fix me, that was going to make this this horrible anniversary bearable.

00;23;49;24 - 00;24;11;12
Kesha Bruce
And I was right. It exceeded all of my expectations. I got everything in more. I didn't I actually had never really been up the West Coast, on the East Coast. Girl You know, after I moved from Iowa, I moved straight to Brooklyn. So like, right, like Crown Heights, my house. So, like, I didn't like, I don't know nothing about no west coast.

00;24;11;12 - 00;24;43;13
Kesha Bruce
That Pacific Ocean is not really my jam. Right? Right. But I got up all the way up to Northern California and then I got up to like Big Sur and it was I never seen a I've never seen the ocean in that way. And it was truly magical to me. I had so many wonderful moments, like almost euphoria just on the beach, just being near the water and just being like, I can't even believe this exists.

00;24;43;13 - 00;25;11;29
Kesha Bruce
And I don't know if folks know about Big Sur actually is the ancestral and sacred land of the Iselin people, and it was recently returned to that tribe. And yeah, it's sacred. There's something special on that mountain and in that coast and it's just fantastic. So and then also there's another element is that, you know, we're in the middle of a global water crisis.

00;25;11;29 - 00;25;12;08
Rob Lee
Yes.

00;25;13;19 - 00;25;37;27
Kesha Bruce
And being on those beaches last summer and then. No, and then also driving up to coats to Oregon where things are on fire. You know, it just really made me I think I connected to to the land and the earth in a different way that I hadn't done it in a long time. And so water has been since last year.

00;25;37;27 - 00;26;00;03
Kesha Bruce
I've been so, so deeply, deeply focused on what the past what what gifts that water gives you, besides the fact that the earth is mostly water, our bodies are made from water, that we need it to survive every single day. That also it's such a I mean, you think of baptism. It's a place where you go to to be reborn and transformed into something you.

00;26;00;05 - 00;26;24;08
Kesha Bruce
My favorite form of cardio is swimming. I'm a swimmer. I took some lessons. I could swim because when I float, I feel something that is transcendent and kind of otherworldly. And there's there's no other way to get that feeling except to immerse the body in water. Right. And so, yeah, take me to the water waters life. Yeah, absolutely not.

00;26;25;08 - 00;26;49;14
Rob Lee
So I have one more real question before I get to those rapid fire questions for you. And thank you. I feel like I might have to find a way to work in the water and in the background for both of you. I guess we'll see. We'll see how we do that, how you develop, maintain and cultivate that creative mindset.

00;26;49;14 - 00;27;11;07
Rob Lee
Do you have trouble with it? And I think you kind of touched on a little bit earlier in the conversation, but, you know, what are some of those medicinal hacks but some of those skills that you've maybe like picked up during the last ten, 15 years or what have you, that you're like, I know that I need to do this because it's going to help me with my creativity.

00;27;11;14 - 00;27;12;03
Rob Lee
Tell me about that.

00;27;12;14 - 00;27;42;07
Kesha Bruce
Absolutely. So I think when I'm talking to, you know, emerging artist, younger artists or people who just early in their creative process. Now, the thing I tell them is you don't have to worry about discipline, but what you need to figure out is your path. You need to find the rituals that you can plug together one by one that make it possible for you to get from A to B, because B is where you work at stuff, and that will look different for everyone, right?

00;27;42;07 - 00;28;02;00
Kesha Bruce
And I've picked up things along the way. I've been really, really lucky to work with and be taught by other you know, I went to the formal route and went through academia. I have an undergrad, I have a BFA in MFA, but I had some time. Most of my teachers were working artists and they made us do all these assignments and they made us do all of these experiments.

00;28;02;00 - 00;28;28;27
Kesha Bruce
And I still go back to those assignments when I'm stuck or when I'm like, I don't know how to start those become my warmups, and they lead me in. And I do believe that there is momentum is a really important part, but I also believe in rest. Give yourself time to you need the critical distance. You need to do the work and then stand back and see what you did and see, like and like.

00;28;28;27 - 00;28;53;12
Kesha Bruce
Is this good? Yeah. You're, like, crazy. Does that make sense or is that work? Sometimes it's not at all what you intended. And and that becomes like, oh, I didn't see that coming. Now I'm curious about what could happen next. Right? Curiosity. I think if you stop putting pressure on yourself to produce, which is one of the biggest problems that I see young artists with, is that they're always like, I got to make art, I got to make art.

00;28;53;12 - 00;29;11;26
Kesha Bruce
I'm like, You don't have to do nothing. You don't have to do that. What you need to do is focus on your practice because that's what's going to get the art done. You can just focus on how like, I'm just, I need to make a whole bunch of yourself and make it please make it may give yourself some fun parameters.

00;29;11;26 - 00;29;33;27
Kesha Bruce
Make it fun for yourself. Like, Okay, I'm going to get 12, 12 inch, 12 by 12 inch canvases and I'm only going to use these five colors to see if I can use that as a tool to get you to where you ultimately want to be. But I mean, my other thing is like, just start, just start. There's never going to be you never going to be like, Oh, the perfect idea.

00;29;33;27 - 00;29;36;13
Kesha Bruce
Let me just go execute. It doesn't really work like that.

00;29;36;22 - 00;30;06;11
Rob Lee
Not only I see that in it, even in doing this where I had this belief, when you don't take breaks, you know, like you have to. I think when you take breaks, just know that and it's this is paraphrasing, but just know that it works. Going to suck for a little bit into the back into that that state of theta what have you and then back into the pocket and you know, I know when I have it recorded or attached to my equipment, thought about questions or even like chatted with other creatives.

00;30;06;13 - 00;30;14;05
Rob Lee
That is a part of it because I find some creatives are really fun, some are just really hyper focused on their thing.

00;30;14;21 - 00;30;15;06
Kesha Bruce
And.

00;30;15;09 - 00;30;25;27
Rob Lee
You know, you just kind of see where that works. But if I haven't, if I've made myself devoid of anything creative and then I go back into it and I haven't touched a microphone or even talked to people for the day.

00;30;26;23 - 00;30;47;15
Kesha Bruce
It's going to be wonky and weird. Yeah, fine. And I think that's the other thing is like I make bad paintings all the time. Do you think the paintings that are Take Me to the Water are the only paintings I was working on? You know, those are those are just the ones that made the cut. Okay. There's five more that I was like, man, you're not going to go into the big dance to take you.

00;30;47;15 - 00;30;49;17
Rob Lee
To the wall that I'm not.

00;30;49;21 - 00;31;11;21
Kesha Bruce
Literally facing. They're against the wall in my studio, and that's fine. Not every single thing you do has to be mastered. It's like you can curate which ones. It's just didn't make sense. So we're going in a different direction or some sort of a different feel. And didn't it? They didn't they didn't end up in that grouping. But ultimately, I think artists are way too hard on themselves.

00;31;11;21 - 00;31;21;14
Kesha Bruce
You just a person just trying to express yourself, some judging you, judging the way you express yourself. Just take your time and do the work you've got to and you got to find your own way.

00;31;22;07 - 00;31;32;06
Rob Lee
There are two, two comparisons that come to mind and we're and we'll leave on that before we get to these rapid fire ones. There are director's cuts. There are.

00;31;32;06 - 00;31;32;22
Kesha Bruce
Hell, yeah.

00;31;32;28 - 00;31;40;09
Rob Lee
Don't let the album. You know, they are tracks like yeah we recorded like 40, I only got 15, you know, like so.

00;31;40;10 - 00;31;40;25
Kesha Bruce
I saw his.

00;31;40;25 - 00;31;41;07
Rob Lee
Number.

00;31;42;05 - 00;31;48;04
Kesha Bruce
I have whole bodies of work that no one's that has never been in the show and have never left like a portfolio in my studio.

00;31;48;29 - 00;31;52;03
Rob Lee
And yeah, there are a few podcasts that I'm like, No, I'm not gonna put these out.

00;31;52;04 - 00;32;04;01
Kesha Bruce
Exactly. I did the work, I learn from them. I even like some of them. Sometimes I'll give them away, I'll give them to family members, stuff like that. But they're never going to end up in a show in a gallery. They're never going to be on my website. That is what it is. Yeah.

00;32;04;21 - 00;32;17;03
Rob Lee
So with that, I think that's a good spot for us to stop and then we'll go into some rapid fire questions. These are fun and ready. They're ridiculous. So these are all over the place. Don't I.

00;32;17;03 - 00;32;17;28
Kesha Bruce
Feel fear?

00;32;18;03 - 00;32;24;21
Rob Lee
I don't know where they go, so I want to do it. This one, chocolate or vanilla?

00;32;25;09 - 00;32;25;26
Kesha Bruce
Vanilla.

00;32;26;09 - 00;32;32;04
Rob Lee
Sorry, I like vanilla as well. And give me a vanilla ice cream all day. People could call me plain. I don't hear.

00;32;32;10 - 00;32;46;22
Kesha Bruce
My mom didn't give us a lot of candy when we were kids like chocolate is a an acquired taste in American chocolate is trash. I didn't like chocolate in time of difference and got Belgian chocolate boom. So say what you want vanilla forever.

00;32;46;22 - 00;32;52;16
Rob Lee
When someone when someone's like, yeah, why don't you like chocolate? I was like, look, I'm chocolate enough. We're good. I'm I got it all set.

00;32;53;05 - 00;32;57;14
Kesha Bruce
We're looking good. And there's enough people who love chocolate. Chocolate's fine. Okay.

00;32;57;19 - 00;33;02;08
Rob Lee
Yeah, it's all. It's all the chocolates PR team that I put out. Any fires?

00;33;02;17 - 00;33;03;01
Kesha Bruce
No.

00;33;04;19 - 00;33;06;05
Rob Lee
Sunrise or sunset.

00;33;06;05 - 00;33;11;26
Kesha Bruce
Mm. Sunrise. I'm solar powered. I made sunrise.

00;33;12;22 - 00;33;13;17
Rob Lee
Was your favorite drink.

00;33;14;23 - 00;33;45;10
Kesha Bruce
My favorite drink made like a cocktail. Oh, how are you? Is whatever okay. Are so hard right now I am addicted to don't don't judge. I'm addicted to those stupid Starbucks pumpkin spice lattes iced with oatmeal. Thank you very much. Venti. Venti with a chocolate cake pop, though. Okay. Yeah, I think I'm in solidarity with the workers at Starbucks, but that is lattes just hit like, oh, to tell you time.

00;33;45;25 - 00;33;54;04
Rob Lee
I mean, I will say literally if I go there to the Starbucks, I'm just like, oh, can you just get me like a cobra? That's all I want. I don't know.

00;33;54;05 - 00;33;57;00
Kesha Bruce
Rooms are good. Yeah, yeah.

00;33;57;00 - 00;34;07;21
Rob Lee
It's kind of what it is. And I feel like, you know, some people will some people won't give me the credit, but I know that I need it. I'm the person that got people on the way for Cold Brew in Baltimore. I'm owning that.

00;34;08;02 - 00;34;13;16
Kesha Bruce
Cold brews that I'm making cold brew right now in my kitchen. That's the last thing I did before I got you.

00;34;14;06 - 00;34;17;28
Rob Lee
To use it. Needed a Japanese style of like, the ice cubes and all of that. Let it melt.

00;34;18;21 - 00;34;26;13
Kesha Bruce
Oh, okay. I get. I got to learn this. I'm just throwing it in there and a picture would be a good luck. Boom. Still delicious.

00;34;26;13 - 00;34;38;23
Rob Lee
Yeah, that's all of it in my wallet. So here's the last two for you. So you talked about a little bit earlier, and I'm a little curious what are two things that are regenerative for you?

00;34;40;09 - 00;35;04;20
Kesha Bruce
Swimming and swimming. I love being in the water. I love being which doesn't have to be the beach. It could just be anywhere. Water and sleep. I'm a big believer that sleep is when your your whole being resets itself in your dream. The the dreamland is like the spirit plane. Yeah. And it's so important. And I'm a big so like, I get like 9 hours of sleep every night.

00;35;05;11 - 00;35;08;19
Kesha Bruce
I'm just to call me after 8:30 p.m.. Don't you dare.

00;35;09;10 - 00;35;09;24
Rob Lee
I'm just.

00;35;09;24 - 00;35;10;18
Kesha Bruce
Going to ask you about.

00;35;11;02 - 00;35;19;12
Rob Lee
I was one of those guys I need to take off my my Apple Watch because it's got this, like, alert on air and just buzzes. I'm like, I'm texting.

00;35;19;14 - 00;35;38;26
Kesha Bruce
No, absolutely not. I actually for a while, just because I was I'm fighting really addicted to my phone. So now I'm doing this thing where I, I charge my phone outside in the hallway. It's not even on my nightstand. So it's got to be asleep. Sleep is everything. And I don't want to interrupt that. I already sleep with an £80 black lab.

00;35;38;28 - 00;35;45;09
Kesha Bruce
That's already enough. Nonsense. Yeah, I give you my sleep. Are saying, okay.

00;35;45;20 - 00;36;04;01
Rob Lee
We had this thing a couple of years back during the summer and it was like about a month before. So it was like let's say, let's say June. So a month before like 4th of July. And it was just fireworks just going off all the time. And that was the lowest amount on average because I keep my watch on the track hour to sleep.

00;36;04;01 - 00;36;11;16
Rob Lee
I'm getting because I get insomnia. And it was just like you had less than 6 hours of sleep. And I was like, that's why I've been so irritable.

00;36;11;29 - 00;36;30;27
Kesha Bruce
Yeah. No, I can't. I can barely be functional. I can I can do it for one night on five or 6 hours, but not several in a row. I start going a little off. Yeah, I didn't sleep to be creative to like. The other thing is, I think folks don't realize how important it is to your whole being.

00;36;31;25 - 00;36;46;19
Kesha Bruce
If you have chronic pain, if you have any other health issues, and what really affects your entire process because it also affects the way your brain works and know it's all tied together. So yeah, I going to take a nap. I sleep a lot. I keep a lot.

00;36;47;04 - 00;37;01;19
Rob Lee
So this this this question is the last one and it's more of a softball. But, you know, I think it ties everything together in a nice in a nice, neat little bow. What's something new happening in your life or career right now?

00;37;01;29 - 00;37;08;06
Kesha Bruce
What is going on? Well, I have this show opening up, which is I mean, that's a no brainer.

00;37;08;10 - 00;37;10;24
Rob Lee
But that was a softball, literally.

00;37;10;25 - 00;37;30;01
Kesha Bruce
So, yeah, I'm like, well, this is like the center my universe right now. It opens on Saturday. And so I hope people and I'm really excited to this is my first in-person thing since COVID. So it means a lot. And you know what? The DC has been good to me over the years, really good to me over the years.

00;37;30;11 - 00;37;46;23
Kesha Bruce
And so I really miss connecting with people over the last few years. So I'm just right now I'm just focused on the show making sure people have access to the work. And then I know we'll see what happens for the rest of the year, but one thing, one baby step at a time. That's enough. That's enough.

00;37;47;11 - 00;38;05;15
Rob Lee
I love it and thank you. So with that, I'm going to thank you again for coming on to the podcast, too. And I want to invite and encourage you to tell the fine, fine folks where to check you out, your work, social media, all of that good stuff. And last second, plug for Take me to the water. Yes, please.

00;38;05;19 - 00;38;06;24
Rob Lee
The floor is yours.

00;38;07;16 - 00;38;30;13
Kesha Bruce
All right. So I have a couple of websites. The most obvious would be Kisha, Bruce Morcombe. That's where you're going to find all of the works and the press release from that. Take Me to the Water exhibition, which opens Saturday, September 17th and runs until October 11th. And then I also have a project website called Spirit House Art dot com.

00;38;31;05 - 00;38;44;22
Kesha Bruce
If you follow me on my Instagram which is at Keisha Bruce dot com, you will find a link to that and some other good things. But yeah, come over to Instagram and say hi. That's where I'm chillin out at these social needs these days, so don't be shy.

00;38;45;09 - 00;39;02;18
Rob Lee
Well, there you have it, folks. For Kisha Bruce, artist, curator, storyteller. I'm Rob Lees and it areas art in and around your neck of the woods. You've got to look for it.

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Rob Lee
Host
Rob Lee
naturally curious and a storyteller

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