Meet the Artists: Kim Markham
By Na Heona Molokai
Na Heona Molokai (Artists of Molokai) is a group creating an exhibition titled “No Stop Light: Molokai” for the 3,600 square foot Downtown Art Center in Honolulu, in May 2022. In the coming months, we will introduce each artist.
What is your connection to Molokai?
My name is Kim Markham. I live in Kaluaaha with my husband Richard, two cats and one dog. We retired here in 2005. In 2010, Dan Bennett and I, together with many friends, created the nonprofit Molokai Arts Center where I volunteer and make my art.
What is your art form and the inspiration behind it?
I am a potter. I make functional and decorative stoneware and raku. I make dishes, storage vessels, garden pots, and vases. I believe an ordinary moment, like your first cup of morning coffee, can be enriched with a handcrafted cup. I feel a connection to the maker of a beautiful pot, and I hope people who use my pots feel connected to me.
What is your conversation with yourself as an artist?
I have a passion for flowers and plants. Mostly I grow vegetables to eat. But I have flower garden fantasies, so I gravitate to vases, planters, and garden sculpture. World problems like climate change, social injustice, poverty and political strife disturb me. My refuge is filled with orchids, heliconia, plumeria and bougainvillea. I’m an outsider artist, because I don’t have an MFA or a formal arts education. When I was a novice potter, I tried to make things perfect: perfectly round, perfectly smooth, perfectly colored. With experience I began to appreciate that pots, like people, are more interesting with the scars and flaws that happen during making. An errant thumbprint or a glaze drip or even a little warping make a piece memorable. It’s the antithesis of plastic perfection that I allow to happen now. I texture my clay with shells, leaves, flowers, scraps of lace or metal screws, humble little fossils, because all things are temporal and my time on earth is fleeting. My vessels will last longer than me.
What do you do in addition to art?
I am a dancer. My husband and I are active members of Na Kupuna o Moana hula halau. We keep our old bones moving by doing yoga and riding bikes.
Does living on Molokai influence your art?
Molokai makes my art possible. Although I attended art classes in Honolulu for three years, the facilities and support artists at Molokai Arts Center are better than any other arts education center I’ve visited. We have access to gas, wood, raku and even a salt kiln. We are free to experiment with glazes. We have tools every potter wants: wheels, slab rollers, texture mats, an extruder, and pugmills. Our fees are extremely low. Many people have no idea what a gem is hidden in that old warehouse in Kualapu’u. Of course, it could be better if we had a permanent building with a roof that didn’t leak, so if there are any angels out there who appreciate what arts education can do for the community, please give Alice (our executive director) a call.
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