We had the good fortune of connecting with Erica Kalish and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Erica, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
Since the beginning of my academic study of the figurative arts, I have been met with aggression from those who believe that the nude figure is pornographic or a pejorative subject. I understand that these feelings are due to cultural influences and familial upbringing, and that the meaning of these symbols change over time. In contrast, my experiences concerning the human body have been exceptionally positive. In my youth, I studied the human body through the lens of a healthcare provider. Studying subjects such as human anatomy and its physiology, microbiology, pathology and eventually specializing in cardiology as an EKG technician (with several years of experience as a CNA), I fell in love with the study of our biology. One vital epiphany that I had while working in the healthcare system is that regardless of who the patient is, I am there to care for them. That is- no matter the experiences, or status or situation of the individual- when someone is confined to a bed in their worst moments, I will provide every person with the same compassion. This idea has become a part of my ethic as an artist and treatment of the figure visually. I want for my audience to appreciate the figures and their eccentricities because they are humans expressing humanity. I want for my art to show the human body in a way that is free from prescribed societal ideals. I have no patience for the audience who is unable to process the beauty that we all have and create as a result of being human.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
It was not until after I had graduated secondary school that I took an academic art class, and that is when I discovered figure drawing. My life came to a halt when I took that first art class. Suddenly, it felt like I had tripped and fallen off a well-worn path, and quickly wondered, “in which direction could I find ‘artist’?” Presently, my art strives to celebrate differences by uplifting all in an effort of inclusion and visibility. Our shared biology ties us together and gives us the space to practice individualism. It is my deepest wish to everyone that you will find love in yourself, and love in others, and that we can respect every “body” as they are. We are each so complex and perfectly suited for life on this Earth.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I highly recommend spending some time at the ‘Valley House Gallery,’ especially if you are visiting in the “age of Covid.” The collection is beautifully curated and makes a point to show off our local talent. Give yourself plenty of time to visit because the grounds include a sprawling sculpture garden that is absolutely breathtaking- you’ll never want to leave.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to recognize Michael O’Keefe, a Dallas-based artist and instructor of whom has been the source of much of my art-education.