—Arshia Simkin, The Underline
Shady Kimzey and TJ Mundy are both local artists who believe that art shouldn’t be constrained by fear or beholden to rules. (Both Kimzey and Mundy use they/them pronouns.) Kimzey founded and runs a monthly “Bad Art Club” at the Eno Arts Mill in Hillsborough, which they advertise with the following tagline: “Are you intimidated by art? Don’t consider yourself an artist? Never taken an art class? This is the class for you.” The only skill you need is “a willingness to try,” Kimzey said.
Kimzey got the idea after two encounters with people who were hesitant to make art: her eighty-five-year-old grandmother who used to paint but now will only do coloring books because she is scared to make her own lines, and a woman at a barn quilting event “who was doing a lot of negative self-talk,” Kimzey said. After these two experiences, Kimzey thought about “how I could create an art space that those women could be a part of and not feel like it was high stakes. And not feel like they had to do something perfectly.”
Kimzey pitched the idea of Bad Art Club as a space for “new artists and non-artists and people who just like to create to come explore the process of making art in a way that was accessible.”
Mundy, who is the 2023 Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Foundation Eno Art Mill Artist in Residence, and who describes themself as “mixed race, queer, [and] trans” has been an invaluable sounding board for Kimzey, helping them refine their vision and, as Mundy put it, “helping them expand their dream.” Mundy describes their approach to art as “anti-disciplinary” and said, “At some point, I was trying to sign up for a studio and they told me ‘no’ and said my art wasn’t cohesive enough…It just felt wrong. When you do art shows and when you kind of do anything, you have to put yourself in a box.” They concluded: “I don’t want to be put in a box and I don’t want to put other people in a box.” They emphasized that for Bad Art Club, they just want people to “make stuff” without getting bogged down by labels.
Each Bad Art Club is a two-hour session and each session has a guest facilitator who teaches a different component of art theory. Mundy was the first guest artist and they facilitated a session about intuitive color choices and linework. Next month, Kimzey said, Bad Art Club “will have an academic from Sweden Zoom in who has done research on the value of bad art to society.”
Kimzey added: “I listened to this interview with this specific art critic and he was just like, ‘you aren’t defined by the medium, you just use mediums.’ And that’s what we do in Bad Art Club—we’re finger painting one week; the next week we’re drawing still life; the next week we’re writing poetry.”
Kimzey is excited about all the possibilities, from hosting “bad art” shows to sharing the idea at conferences so that more people can take up the mantle of bad art. “There’s other bad art spaces that exist…there’s a bad art museum. I think it’s a bigger thing.” Culturally, Kimzey said, “it lives at this crux of internet-art, pop-art, surrealism and dada, folk art, and anti-art movements…essentially those movements that push against fine-art establishments.”
“It’s been an idea that so many people have connected with; our first two were sold out with a waitlist…People are talking to me about it. They’re sending me pictures of bad art…There’s a little word that people can say to give themselves permission to make things,” Kimzey said.
- Learn more about the Bad Art Club and sign up at https://events.humanitix.com/bad-art-club
- Sign up for the Bad Art Club Newsletter: https://thebadnewsletter.substack.com/
- Follow Bad Art Club on Facebook
- Learn more about TJ Mundy at their website or Instagram
- See Mundy’s first solo show, “Accessible Intuition” at the Eno Arts Mill, viewable through June 2023. Hours: 12 – 5pm Tuesday-Saturday, and on First Fridays