DAVIDA KIDD: Bully for You
Vancouver artist wins international print award.
By Beverly Cramp
Some wild urge made Davida Kidd spend almost a thousand dollars against her better judgment to send her artwork to the 2003 International Print Triennial in Krakow, Poland. With the competition deadline looming, Kidd discovered that Canada Post would not mail her over-sized works and she had to resort to a more expensive private courier. Kidd dithered; close to a thousand dollars was a lot of money for an artist and it was her fifth time entering the Triennial.
It turned out to be money well spent. Kidd won the Triennial’s Grand Prix, garnering her a $7,000 prize, a free trip to Krakow to accept the award and a solo exhibition at the National Museum in Krakow scheduled for 2006. As a student, Kidd was recognized for her artistic vision, winning the Province of Alberta Graduate Scholarship ($10,000) in 1985, the Ralph Steinhauer Award of Distinction for Academic Excellence ($20,000) in 1986 and the University Women’s Club of Edmonton Graduate Scholarship ($1000) in 1987. She was on a roll. Kidd went on to collect many international awards for her manipulated print media, from Seoul, Korea and Sapporo, Japan to Germany and Macedonia. And now the Triennial in Poland, considered one of the world’s largest and most celebrated assemblies of international print media.
Kidd currently works out of Vancouver, B.C., where she has lived since 1989. Vancouver’s Elliott Louis Gallery and a private dealer in New York City represent her. “I met Davida a couple of years ago, found her art was extraordinary and felt it belonged in our gallery,” says Ted Lederer, owner and director of the Elliott Louis Gallery. “Her work is post-modern and marries technology and art in a way that is cutting edge and clearly fine art.”
Kidd is often asked how she gets her images and — more basically — what they are. Are they sets? Photographs of something real? Has the image been drawn?
“I use digital manipulation in my work, but only at the very end,” says Kidd. “I do a lot before [this stage] by shooting my own work and drawing outside of the computer. I try to get the look of a non--computer-generated image.”
One of the works that won over the Triennial judges, called The Navigator, is an assemblage of photographed parts (the hands in the print are Kidd’s), hand-drawn pictures later photographed (the face in the baseball) and other sources digitally merged together.
“I don’t want the technique to be obvious,” says Kidd. “In the end I worked to get the lighting to look as if everything had been photographed in the same space.”
The Navigator is one piece in a series, the first part of which Kidd named Base Imprints. Its theme is the fragility and ferocity of pre-pubescence, including the potential for violence. The Navigator is like the “sleeping giant, the kid that could be the bully,” says Kidd. She has plans to continue the series, which has been influenced by American photographer Gregory Crewdson, Canadian photo-conceptualist Jeff Wall, Surrealist Czech animator Jan Svankmajer, film-maker David Lynch and the many B-grade horror movies Kidd watched while growing up.
In addition to the solo exhibition at Krakow, Kidd will have a solo exhibition at PLATFORM Centre for Photographic and Digital Arts in Winnipeg in 2005. She will also be co-curating a show about underground art at the Elliott Louis Gallery in May 2004.
Beverly Cramp is a Vancouver-based freelance writer who frequently writes about art, architecture and other big ideas.