The Gray Area - New Work by Kim Merritt

The Gray Area - New Work by Kim Merritt

Opening Thursday, May 9th, 5 to 9pm
Exhibit Runs May 8th - May 31st

Kim Merritt is an artist in the truest sense: she can’t really be anything else. “Creating is breathing. Anxiety murders me whenever I’m away from my bench, so it’s like therapy.” Sure, she could make easier money in more traditional careers, but that would be a hollow pursuit for Merritt. Easy money comes at a price. She would be giving up so much more. “I suffer with this passion, and I’m insanely hard on myself, but when someone gets my work I realize that I’m not alone in this. It keeps me going whenever a person connects with one of my pieces.”

Some tough decisions lead to Kim’s upcoming May 9th show, “The Gray Area,” at Virago Gallery. She spent a year mulling the idea of retiring the bulk of Gritty Jewelry. “I scaled back to allow myself more creative time for my soul, my WEIGHT collection, and refining the Weapons line in Gritty Jewelry. The idea terrified me, but a month after retiring everything that wasn't a weapon I couldn't imagine why I was so worried!”

Pulling that trigger paid off. Kim designed and carved twenty-five new pieces for the show. “It feels so freeing and feeds something I neglected for too long. I’m making more one-offs and feeling less like an assembly line.”

The show will feature a big collection of numbered and signed pieces, like a 3-karat gray sapphire, gray moonstone, purple/gray spinel and a yellow sapphire for some spice. So why so much gray? “Gray like Seattle, gray like the space in which I live. I spend a lot of time in the gray area; that’s the place my mind dwells. It makes a perfect backdrop, and when a little color sneaks in it’s so intense.”

“The Gray Area” coincides with Kim’s thirty-ninth birthday. Her expanded WEIGHT collection reflects her thoughts on entering the final phase of her thirties. “Things start to feel heavy. Some goals I set for myself remain unmet, family and friends are aging, and we’re getting achy and cranky. Apparently, I’m past my prime, but I have never felt more myself, so to hell with all that. I feel like I’m on a new path.” 

Kim has lived in the Pacific Northwest over a decade, but her Southern roots still show in her designs. Metals in her native Central Florida tend to wear a subdued tarnish. That salty, humid air is transformative, disruptive, and perfectly suits its environment. Kim acclimated well to her adopted region, but she still forges a bit of the swampland into her work. Demographics in the region shifted and diversified, but Kim brings a flavor not often experienced way up in this enclave. She still takes her eggs, “...fucking scrambled on top of some grits.” She perfectly suits her environment.

Virago Gallery will prove a festive outpost for the West Seattle Art Walk. Visitors can expect some booze and dancing amidst all that gray. This won’t be a drab affair -- it’s a celebration of life’s conflicts and continuities. It’s also a celebration of Kim’s continued existence. Drop in and remind her that she’s some bit of fabulous witch. Maybe bring her some grits.

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