Kendall Hill Wants To Challenge The Norm
by Zoe Rayn; Editorial Director
Art fairs are tricky places - navigating the hundreds of booths can be a stimulation overload, to say the least, and at times it can feel as though you aren’t even able to see the work gracing the walls. Challenging sure, but I think it may actually be what makes finding an artist/work you love all that more special. This past The Other Art Fair I found myself in the same predicament - meandering around the crowds trying to squeeze my way into booth after booth, then like a breath of smokey air, I spotted a clearing - a grass clearing - covered in cigarette butts, in the middle of an aisle.
Enter Kendall Hill - the Chicago based multidisciplinary artist and an all-around gem of a human being. Fresh out of art school and entering the non-profit world, he took a bit of time out of his schedule to chat about all things Chicago, interpretation and more.
Z: Was there a pivotal moment when you decided to follow your path as an artist?
K: Probably the most pivotal time was when I went to college and was truly alone for months on end. All that space to think really made me question “do I want to be doing this right now?” And “what’s going to make me happy”. I ended up switching my science major to art. It was truly the best decision of my life - and all I did was believe in myself.
Z: Moving from a science concentration to art is a big change! Have you ever found yourself artistically inspired by your science education?
K: Well, life inspires me. Even before I was an artist I was always curious about how the systems around me work and what makes x y and z move and feel. When I switched to art, I just began to do it more socially rather than scientifically. But it’s the same study of life, in some ways.
Z: How would you describe the Chicago art scene for a young artist/creative?
K: I think the creative scene of Chicago is daring. From top to bottom there are spaces and creators willing to take the risk - and with cheap living, in the city, you can do that once or multiple times until it works. But on the other hand, I want to see more of that. More people willing to go off the standard and put their hearts and minds on the line.
Z: Can you explain a bit more? In terms of what you'd like to see people do more.
K: It’s really easy to get lost in your creative bubble and just begin to please the 1,5,10,50 thousand people that follow you and see your work constantly. And then it’s a cycle of being comfortable and also making work to please the masses. Not everything you make and put out should be comfortable, not every move you make should be public, and not every thought you have should revolve around your own space. As a whole, the underground community needs to knock on more doors. Be more daring in tongue and manner, and understand there’s still a lot of work to do if we want to get to the spaces we all dream of and deserve.
Z: What do you hope people experience when viewing/interacting with your work?
K: I hope people feel something. I know that doesn’t really answer the question but it should be left that simple. I just want you to walk away affected, inspired, maybe even confused with or mad at me sometimes. That’s okay. My job is to challenge the norm and throw it back at everyone for review.
Z: Have you ever disagreed with how someone felt/interpreted your work? If so, how did you navigate it? On that same note, what advice would you give an artist struggling with their work not being understood in the way they had intended it to be?
K: I’ve disagreed SO many times with the way people have interpreted my work - but those are thoughts for my head. Ultimately when you view my work you should receive it as you want. And if I’m upset you see one thing, that’s on me more than anyone. That means I didn’t communicate strongly enough. I navigate it by going back to the drawing board - seeing what I need to tweak after I’ve heard the feedback.
If your work isn’t being taken the way you want it to, you should reevaluate the work you’re making in entirety. Get back to the drawing board - square one. Be honest with yourself, too.
Z: If you could share a studio with any artist (dead or alive) who would it be?
K: Yvette Mayorga no question. She’s Chicago based too so I guess beyond theory it’d be easier as well haha. The work she’s doing now is shaping the next wave of Chicago fine artist and it’s tight.
Z: What are your long-term hopes for your career as an artist?
K: World domination of course.
But on a serious note, I want to give back so much to the places and spaces that have brought me to where I am. Without getting too existential, I question a lot how I got to the space I’m at now. It humbles me quite a bit and makes me fight harder for the people who come from where I come from and want to get to where I am - wherever I am. I want to give back to the city that made me in ways I haven’t thought of yet - but being me, that means opening some type of creative space or business. My artwork can’t be the only thing that lives past me.
Z: Do you have a favorite piece you've created?
K: My favorite artwork is the life and practice I’ve created for myself. I’ve never shared this thought with anyone so I guess this is breaking news. I love that I can wake up, make artwork, go to work and create artwork and programs that really matter, and go be with my creative friends and make art with them, then answer emails about coffee meetups and business meetings on my train ride home. I could do this 24 hours a day (and I have) and never get tired of it. The most beautiful artwork is the ride. My moments are what are physical and what goes on the walls. But, that’s just a moment - this is every day.
Z: Any upcoming events/shows you'd like to share?
K: I’m actually taking a break from shows for the moment! I’ve done at least ten in the last year and that’s been exhausting for me so I want to take some time to think and BREATHE.
But, let’s see how long that lasts.
See more of Kendall’s work on his website or on instagram!