Kim Radford, Artist/Muralist
A Muralist Living Life Large
Kim Radford, a Nashville painter and muralist, is creating quite a large following for her spectacular artworks like the Dolly Parton, Of Course Black Lives Matter mural located in East Nashville. Among her artistic murals is a Dragon image commissioned by Americana Band Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors to commemorate the title track from their album Dragons. Her works are popping up all over the South with her unique pop art flair.
What should we know about Kim?
Kim loves familiar things done large. Kim has a mission to make public art that is inviting – art that people can touch, stand next to, take photos, take videos and even promote themselves with it. Kim got started with mural art when she was in college earning her Bachelor of Fine Art degree. From painting Cinderella for a child’s room, her art took off moving from homes to small businesses to big businesses.
Have women always been involved in mural painting?
While the most famous muralists have been men in the history books, there have been women entering the field during present times. Women typically not gotten the opportunities that men have. And many of the things like scaling heights and using lift equipment have been associated with men.
What is the largest Kim Radford mural?
Kim did a mural that was 50 feet high. Rather than using your fingers or your hand, the proportions are so large that it take your whole body to make the movements necessary to complete the forms. She has always been drawn to murals because they always have a pre-determined place to live, they don’t have to be moved or sold, and the design is created for the space where it is going to live.
What is important about public art?
Kim has learned a lot about public art in the past year. There is so much excitement built up during a mural being painted. People come and watch and bring their children to see the process unfold. And she has learned that public art is a real investment to the community. It’s the antidote for progress that includes paid parking, no trespassing and expensive new businesses. Public art is the opposite of the restrictions of a city. It is open and inviting, allowing people to interact with it.
How does the music and art community come together in your art?
Kim’s husband is a musician and because people in the music community were her friends, it was a natural relationship for Kim to begin to paint murals for musicians and local music stores. Lilly Hiatt hired Kim to do her cover art for her new album and a corresponding mural at Grimey’s in Nashville. And other musicians began to ask who did the mural.
How did the Dolly mural come about?
When a commission for a mural in a new downtown honky tonk fell through, Kim started looking for a new home for her Dolly vision. Kim actually funded the mural herself and asked her community for potential locations that were local. The 5 Spot was available. Kim started the mural and the day before she finished it, Dolly had a Billboard interview where she was asked about Black Lives Matter. Her famous response was “And of course Black lives matter. Do we think our little white asses are the only ones that matter?” Kim decided to add the quote to the mural the next day and before the paint dried it became a success.
Why have murals become part of culture?
The most famous murals in Nashville that have helped promote the art are the I Believe in Nashville mural and the Wings mural by Kelsey Montague. They put a person in them, they are both Instagram-able and postcard moments. Everybody wants a Wings mural. You can’t plan what mural is going to be famous. It’s like writing a good song. The Dolly mural took off because of the timing and the subject.
Are there other cities that have extraordinary murals?
Three key cities where the murals have made an impression on Kim are Philadelphia, Venice Beach and Atlanta. Philadelphia has an arts program to bring in artists from all over the world to do murals throughout the city. Venice Beach, California has incredible colorful murals with a patina to them and Atlanta has a no-rules vibe to their art.
What are some of the trends in murals?
Kim recently completed an augmented reality mural and thinks the interactive experience is the next trend in murals. Consumers hold their phone in front of the mural and it comes alive in an animated way. Recently the Tennessee Titans commissioned an augmented reality mural as well.
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