Interview with Artist Kipp Normand

August 10, 2017 / Property: Pinnex

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Upon arrival at the Harrison Center for the Arts, you will find Kipp Normand’s studio tucked away in a maze of art within an old church. This juxtaposition of old architecture and modern artwork suits itself and makes it feel like an exploration with every turn. In Kipp’s studio, mounds of collected antiques are stacked so that there is only one path to his desk. But Kipp does not mind, this is his idea space. Kipp was the main artist for art installation pieces found at the two Milhaus properties, Pinnex and Circa apartments. While different in style they are made with his signature assembled objects that reflect the character of each property. In talking about his art pieces created especially for these sites he touched upon his creative process and how the art comes to be.



Where does your creative process begin?

Kipp described it as an esoteric experience. He starts with thinking about the limitations, like space, size, even the rules for legal adherence designated for spaces like Pinnex and Circa that must be followed. Then it is just setting the parameters. He thinks, “What is the most outlandish thing I can do?” He tries to see if that idea is feasible based on the parameters already in place then adjusts from there. Next, he identifies “What are the goals?” He wants to see how he can make the idea intriguing, colorful and quirky in his own way. When asked how he begins to create the art piece his method is starting with “really good pile of junk”.

How would you classify your art?

Often described as found object, sculpture and assemblage, Kipp creates pieces that emphasize art imbued with history. He found Pinnex interesting because he could use the history of the site to tell a story to the residents and visitors who came in. Each project has related narratives, constraints, problems and solutions that must form a cohesive story.

Is this widely practiced or something you see as a newer form of art?

Kipp explained this art is nothing relatively new but the recognition of it as an art form dates back to the early 20th century. Tradition of sculpture which Kipp draws from, comes from the folk-art approach that has been in use for centuries. He describes his work more of as folk art and what is thought of as traditional “Art” collide, both in the literal and figurative sense. Kipp’s hope for the art is that people will want to explore all of the pieces as a form of entertainment.

Where did you get the materials for the Pinnex project?

Kipp will be the first to point out that he is a hoarder. But a hoarder with a purpose is the distinction because his collection helped with finding materials for the project. Whatever he does not have can be found at auctions and at rummage and antiques sales. When tasked with this project, Kipp explored utilizing images from the broadcasting industry in Indy, however most of the imagery he found were black and white of news anchors. To create more of a variety, he broke up the theme of broadcasting further into themes of advertising and TV. Intermingling objects like clocks speakers and repurposing pieces like the “on air” signs from the radio station was a way to incorporate the old site into the new and keep the soul of the building.

What was challenging/easy about these projects?

Besides finding the physical materials to create the installation pieces, Kipp said the constraints on the building were another challenge to work around. Kipp was tasked with painting a mural on the entrance from the garage into the building which was a finite space. This mural was a step into a medium he is not the most comfortable with but the architects on the property supported him to get the job done.

How do you create an identity within each piece at Pinnex?

In the initial meeting for conceptual ideas regarding finishes, Kipp was given a foundation for creating artwork that touched on previous buildings: the IPS schools, radio and tv buildings and apartment building. Kipp wanted to create a body of work related thematically to the history of the property. Stories and narrative elements are expressed in the pieces specifically but also included themes of news, politics, sports, advertising. Kipp said, “It is a very fertile ground visually. As you get closer to the pieces, there are lots of details to be explored.” He also envisioned an opportunity of a suite of pieces like the mural, the leasing office and focal points at the corridors so residents and visitors could experience the history of the property when they walk in the door. These pieces are meant to be a conversation starter and more dramatic than using only photography or paintings. Kipp was, “interested in making the work fun and interesting visually and wanted people to have their curiosity peaked.” 

Leasing Office-Pinnex

What do you think is unique about Milhaus or their properties?

While working with Milhaus on both projects, Kipp noticed how Milhaus values their tenants and carefully considers how each element added is designed to fit a community. “Milhaus cares enough about making a unique experience for living in their properties.” As an artist, he enjoys how Milhaus has the maker’s room feature stating, “They include people and have space available for everyone in the community to work on their projects; people usually feel inhibited by their own space. People have a creative side and Milhaus offers a space to explore that.” Milhaus finds value in creating story for each property and design is very important to connect the heritage of the site to the community created there now.