Featured Artist Kimberly Pack

  • Posted by: Tomato Head, Market Square Manager • February 18th, 2018


Playwright Edward Albee famously decried the efforts of critics and scholars to identify too much “connective tissue” in his work.  Albee said he didn’t control characters – they act the way they act because that’s who they are, and they do what they do because that’s what they want to do.  For Albee, writing, art if you will, isn’t limited or necessarily driven by what happens to the creator of the work.  Albee might have opined that in art, like life, the artist starts something, somewhere for reasons known or unknown, but once started that creation careens off in its own direction.

Artist Kimberly Pack, whose exhibit currently hangs in our Market Square location, isn’t exactly sure where the characters in her work came from, but she does know that they have taken up residence in her imagination where they seem to have heard and heeded a call to be fruitful and multiply.

A quick look at her collection of drawings (ink on watercolor paper) is enough to tempt an observer into wondering if these strange little people have some connection to the artist’s life:  Are they personal demons trying to get out?  Are they unkind caricatures of unpleasant characters from her past? Are they born of some great sadness or a little touch of madness?

Pack isn’t sure where her inspiration is born, but when asked about the genesis of the drawings she describes a combination of habit, self-improvement, and the mystery of inspiration’s spark:

“When my kids were growing up they never just got to sit and watch cartoons; they had to be coloring, or they could be playing with Legos or Hot Wheels –  just doing something.  So I was in the habit of sitting with a movie on and drawing circles. Just drawing circles.  And then a few years ago I recognized that I’d just never been able to draw in a way that I was happy with.  So I got one of these books, something like ‘20 Ways to Draw a Tree’ and I started drawing.  I’m not joking.”

As her drawing continued, Pack still stuck with circles but then “there were eyes, and faces, and shoulders, and then they started getting bigger and bigger and with more detail.  I do it every day; I can’t stop drawing these guys.  It just makes me happy.”

A few, and only a few of the current drawings have a connection to the real world.  One drawing, she says, is inspired by her father’s World’s Fair Season Pass photo, another by a picture of actor Viggo Mortensen, but mostly, “I just sit down and draw from nothing.”

Pack is aware that some people may not quite see her characters as she does or understand their essential happiness and whimsy: “Drawing them calms my mind but also leaves me very happy. I’m not a tortured artist – I get joy from their faces. I’ve always loved cartoons.  I’m nearly 50 and still do. “Futerama” and “Rick and Morty” – I love them and so I guess I like to look at things that are kind of cartoony or just whimsical.   You may not look at them and think these are whimsy.  But I do.”

Kimberly Pack will be on view at the Market Square Tomato Head thru March 4th, 2018.  She will exhibit at the West Knoxville Gallery Tomato Head from March 6th thru April 2nd, 2018.

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