KéKé Cribbs was born in Colorado Springs, CO in the early 1950's, the eldest of five children. Her parents were both craftsmen, and her father had a shop called "Arts Crafts and Hobbies" on East Pikes Peak Avenue. Their early interest in the arts, and subsequent encouragement to their children, had a huge influence on KeKe, and "making things" has always been a necessary component of her life.
The other big influence for her was living in Ireland and Corsica from age fifteen to twenty five where she became interested in ancient history, mythology and the architecture of ancient towns and dwellings. In 1976 she moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, which deepened both her knowledge and curiosity. When she discovered the decorative pottery of the prehistoric Mimbres people she became fascinated by the narrative quality of the imagery and it inspired her to do a series of drawings of contemporary Santa Fe in a faux version of the Mimbres style. This led to an exhibition at the Dewey Kofron Gallery and to a subsequent commission to render her imagery onto glass panels. Thus began her career as a glass artist, leading her to explore a myriad of various glass techniques which included sandblasting, engraving and vitreous enamels. As the glass movement was still new, KéKé found herself seeking more information and eventually attended workshops at Pilchuck Glass School. Afterwards she moved to Whidbey Island in the Puget Sound to be closer to the heart of the glass community. Before long she found herself teaching at both Pilchuck Glass School and the Penland School of Crafts, as well as starting a Glass Program at the Swain School of Design in New Bedford, MA, which then became SMU. She continues to teach workshops occasionally and loves teaching.
KéKé Cribbs is essentially a self taught artist, although she would argue that anyone who learns something has to be curious enough to retain the information, no matter where it comes from. In her case it is her life experiences and a fascination with process which has led her to develop a unique approach to making her art work. In her view the mystery surrounding objects from the past creates its own narrative in the mind of the onlooker. It is this aspect which remains a trait that the artist weaves into her work through narrative imagery and her approach to the surface of an object as it becomes revelatory. Working in many materials including glass and ceramics, the artist seeks to create an interactive form of storytelling, sculpturally creating shapes with narrative surfaces, bringing the whole work into a multifaceted exploration of the subconscious world of dreams, symbols and storytelling.
With a career spanning over thirty eight years, the works of KéKé Cribbs are now included in many museum collections both nationally and internationally, including the L.A. County Museum, CA, Corning Glass Museum, Corning NY, Henry Ford Art Museum, Dearborn, MI, Mobile Art Museum, Mobile AL, Racine Art Museum, Racine WI, and Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art, Sapporo, Japan.
The Treasure Trove was opened in May 2017 as an experimental space which I call a "creativity incubator"; it is an effort to keep creativity alive within our own small community during a time of economic and political duress.
Artists who may already have gallery representation are invited to make work in materials they don't usually use or exhibit, including printed work. They are also encouraged to bring in work from their own private collections, which may include their own or other artists work, or even vintage "treasures". I am also taking on some people who have never shown before, and mentoring a few young people whom I hope will bring in art work.
Although I rented an 11' x 12' closet space in which to hatch my idea, the space seems much larger now that it is packed floor to ceiling with an eclectic mix of art work. I kind of feel like I am living in my own installation project which others are welcome to come into and experience. I call it a "shop" and not a "gallery", which gives me a certain wonderful freedom to change things around whenever it pleases me.
In an effort to help artists figure out ways to make "affordable" art work and design production lines, the artists receive %70 of sales. My hope is to come up with a new model for keeping the Arts alive within a small community.
Additionally, the Treasure Trove opens onto the new Front Room Gallery at Bayview Corner which is a new rental space for Artists to mount their own shows. Fortuitously, having the two spaces adjoined means that they can work together and I often help by gallery sitting both areas, which is really fun and informative.
Using all kinds of recycled " trash" to fabricate concrete substrates for mosaic work.
The project is called Trash Dogs.
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