What influences make an artist? What are the particular ingredients that form the individual creative mind? When the question was put to him, Keith Kleespies, who prefers the moniker “image maker”, counts the entirety of all art history as his influence. “I love every damn bit of it.”
The result is output over a lifetime that has been determinedly eclectic. More recently, he is proof that the ability to see doesn’t necessarily define a creative vision. Kleespies’ eyesight is failing him. But rather than being a handicap, the impairment has become a catalyst for the artist to incorporate new techniques and subject matter into his work, moving him to a place where he now considers himself “media-agnostic”.
“At the moment, I am very engaged by photography because I am losing my sight,” Kleespies says. “I’m currently down to one eye and the camera is the same, so we get along well together for the time being. I am an expressionist and I find the photograph can be a delightfully hot medium.”
In 2010, the Cincinnati native partnered with C.J. Pressma, another visually impaired artist, for Outta Sight! The Inner Vision of Two Blind Guys, at the Carnegie Center in New Albany. Several of the works in this exhibit started as line drawings, which Kleespies then scanned and manipulated digitally, adding color and changing the scale to create large digital prints.
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At a Glance:
Name: Keith Kleespies
Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky