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A Conduit for Creation,

Written for Elk and HAMMER by Jessica Byerly on Jul 7th 2022


Unbridled, cast bronze Percheron heavy horse sculpture by Kindrie Grove
Unbridled, cast bronze Percheron by Kindrie Grove

Kindrie Grove grew up surrounded by horses, her earliest artistic inspiration, in the wide open spaces of her family’s horse farm north of Calgary. She fondly recalls the first wobbly steps of midnight foals, the rush of wildlife, ever-present farm cats, and the resplendence of the seasons’ change. It’s not necessarily a new story — a child growing up in rural environs with an abundance of nature to shape her — but it’s becoming an increasingly rare one. And, when childhood freedom — the unadulterated explorations and incantations of life surrounded by life — evokes artistic ingenuity, it’s hard not to imagine greater forces at work. Kindrie Grove is the result of just that sort of alchemy, and she’s intent on sharing that magic in every way she can.


Grove began drawing at just five years old, with an inner certainty that art, in what would eventually become a wide range of forms, would define her life. She moved on to acrylics as a teenager and oils during her first year at the Alberta College of Art (now the Alberta University of Art). “I fell in love with the richness and texture of oil,” smiles Kindrie. “It has been my primary medium for painting ever since.” She added sculpture to the mix at age 34, connecting with the tactile creation and marking in clay with much the same dexterity as she applies brush strokes to canvas. “Sculpting is perhaps more immediate than painting: there is nothing between you and the material, no brushes or tools, not even color.” And writing is now a significant facet of Grove’s artistic identity, as well. “The cross-pollination between the disciplines is often surprising and always enriching,” says Grove. “Scenes for the books will come as paintings or drawings before they are ever conceived as written passages. Conversely, the characters and concepts in my fantasy novels inspire works of art and illustration.”


As she moved from her late teenage years into adulthood, she became fascinated with zebras and elephants; so much so, in fact, that the passion fueled travel and unencumbered exploration through much of her twenties. “I needed to see my subjects in the wild and capture them within the context of their own spaces,” remarks Grove. An extended trip through southern Africa segued into regular road trips canvasing North America (and Europe a decade later). In this, she absorbed the rich tapestry afforded by travel and the novelty of otherness, weaving it through sketches, journals, plein air paintings, concepts, and contemplations.


The years that followed found her teaching drawing, painting, and sculpture workshops from her studio, igniting those same passions in students young and old. And growing herself. “The act of teaching, of pulling from your subconscious all the skills that you have tucked away and forgotten, of bringing them out for people to learn from is a catalyst for great growth,” remarks Grove. “Through teaching, I was able to move into a new strata of understanding color, shape and form.” While she learned as much as she taught and recognizes the evolutionary value of those years, she’s spent the past five years in solitary exploration of her mediums and mythos.


Though she returns to wild subjects and horses often, her source of inspiration has likewise evolved to encompass the trappings of her imagination. “They tell me their stories, which are also my stories, and they keep me company as that united vision unfolds through paper, canvas and bronze,” says Grove.” The spirit warrior that lives in the pages of my books now also rides out of my canvases and emerges from the clay. A symbol of self-empowerment, she looks unflinchingly inward toward truth.” In much the same way that her students opened worlds of introspection, her fantasies have as well. As she explores the edges of life, love, tragedy, heroism, and the mystical threads that tie it all together in her characters, so, too, does she inhabit those ephemeral spaces. In this layering of reality and imagination, of peeling back and burying within, is an interesting metaphor for Grove’s work and functional process as well: “I often see my subjects with many views — like a multitude of photographs overlaid — and the excitement of seeing a sculpture take shape beneath my fingers is always a joy.”


The future for a woman intent on outward exploration and inward discovery is always a powerful one, magical in its own rite. There are additional novels, for certain, and the varied creations from hands made for making, but for Kindrie Grove there is more still, whether a march forth into whatever great beyonds remain or a return to the beginning, only time will tell.


Sometimes we leave ourselves breadcrumbs — signposts — hints that guide us through our lives and the process of evolution. This is my definition of magic. My job as an artist is ultimately to get myself out of the way, to allow inspiration to channel into the work without the impediment of me trying to control the outcome. Creating in this way allows me access to myself at a deep level. In sharing the work with the world, perhaps it provides the same experience for others – or at least a resonant energy that brings a sense of wonder and enjoyment to those it touches. If people who interact with my work feel even a small part of what I do while creating it, then I am gratified.


 

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