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A NASA Engineer Turned Artist Whose Canvas Is a Huge Fish Tank | Design | WIRED

Have you ever been mesmerized by the swirling of the milk in your coffee (or is that just me pre-caffeinated)? Well, that phenomenon at least is interesting to one other person, Kim Keever.

Artist Kim Keever is like a hydroponic Jackson Pollock. Instead of a canvas, though, he drizzles paint into a 200-gallon fishtank.Keever is reticent to share the secrets of his process, but says that after the Sears Easy Living paints are added to the tank, he has anywhere from five to 20 minutes before the liquids diffuse, leaving 200-gallons of murky brown water in their wake. In the moments where the colors whirl and eddy, Keever shoots thousands of photos, choosing one or two before embarking on the five hour processes of emptying, cleaning, and refilling the tank so he can start anew. “They only need to hold up for that ephemeral moment, and then it doesn’t matter,” he says. “Whatever impermanence exists in the materials is irrelevant once the photo is captured.”Keever’s dabblings in acquatic abstract expressionism are a far cry from his rigid college days, where he studied engineering. During summers, he’d intern at NASA, where he worked on missile skin technology and jet nozzles. He had the grades and work ethic to thrive at the space agency and envisioned a career dedicated to improving booster engines, followed by a creative retirement filled with art making. Ultimately, he traded in his slide rule for a low-rent loft in the East Village of New York City.Keever began his art career in the New York City of the 1970s, surrounded by the weirdo glamor of Warhol’s Studio, the emerging art of subway graffiti, and the novel sounds of Grandmaster Flash and disco. He spent nearly two decades as a traditional painter and printmaker until he discovered the style and subject that would become his trademark in 1991.

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Author:

Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.