We recently connected with Dana and Ruth Kleinman, KX2 and have shared our conversation below.
Dana and Ruth, thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today. The first dollar you earn is always exciting – it’s like the start of a new chapter and so we’d love to hear about the first time you sold or generated revenue from your creative work?
Maybe not the first actual dollar, but the first big sale of our work was a much needed milestone. Making a living as an artist is anything but a given. There is no steady salary and you never know month to month whether you will sell enough to pay the bills. And for us, every piece we create is a risky investment since sculpture is expensive to create. For many years both of us held “regular jobs” to help pay bills.
It was while both of us were working these jobs that I received an email informing me that a long shot application I had put in for a Public Art piece had been accepted! We had no prior experience in Public Art and had never placed a piece in a public collection at the time. However, New Mexico Arts, Art in Public Places chose a large scale wall sculpture of ours to purchase and install at New Mexico State University. It was our first large sale.
But the best part of it was the excitement I felt about making the phone call to my sister Ruth. Ruth was pregnant with her first child, miserably working at and upscale retailer where they would not even let her sit down during work hours. I remember calling her and telling her to find a place to sit down, even if it was on the floor, that I had great news. The joy and tears that followed was one of the most unforgettable moments of our career together.
Dana and Ruth, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
We are an artist/sister collaboration creating mathematically inspired sculpture merging metal and painting. From a distance the work is bold and geometric, yet up close the viewer is engaged by textural hand-sanded metal and multi-layered paintings. By exploring geometry, symmetry and connection, the work aims to create a moment of pause, inviting the viewer to escape the stresses of the day and find a space to achieve balance. In our most recent work, themes related to environmental issues are presented with the hope to raise an awareness of the fragility of our natural ecosystems.
Since establishing our artistic collaboration in 2007, our work has been featured in notable galleries and museums around the world. Importantly, the work was leveraged to the international art scene with an invitation to represent the United States at the 2008 Beijing Biennale at the National Art Museum of China. Our artwork can be found in numerous private, corporate and public art collections throughout North America.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on NFTs. (Note: this is for education/entertainment purposes only, readers should not construe this as advice)
NFTs… I see pros and cons for artists, but let us focus on the cons. The biggest con at the moment is the environmental impact and until this changes (which supposedly is coming) you will not see any KX2 NFTs. The minting of an NFT takes an obscene amount of energy, and every time one is resold, it churns up even more of a carbon footprint. It is bad. And many artists are completely unaware of this. When we buy art supplies, we are able to read ingredients and make an informed decision, no different than food. However, NFT platforms are not forthcoming with how bad they are for the environment. I even see many “environmental” artists using these platforms unknowingly. Here are a few articles for those who would like to know more and get some real numbers:
We often hear about learning lessons – but just as important is unlearning lessons. Have you ever had to unlearn a lesson?
All of art history. The art history we all learned in school and in museums is one we all need to unlearn, or at least supplement A LOT. From DaVinci to Damien Hirst, the artists most of us are familiar with and taught about are white men. “Can you name 5 women artists?” I could not for most of my life. I was never exposed to women artists, or many artists of color. Recent data analysis says that women only account for 10% of artists shown in major museums. Ruth and I grew up in the Washington DC area and were lucky to get to frequent all of the free art museums. I remember swooning over Rembrandts and Sargents, and developing an understanding of contemporary art looking at Ellsworth Kelly and Anslem Kiefer. But it was not until later in college that I was exposed to how one sided this art history I had experienced was. I was lucky enough to have a professor Faith Wilding who was part of the California Feminist Art Movement in the 70s and exposed me to a whole hidden history of women in art. To this day, I work hard to educate myself on women artists and amplify their work, since unfortunately this bias has not gone away.
KX2, Carina Mask