Here at The Forum, we believe the arts are such an essential connector for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). So each quarter, we highlight an artist that we feel is a conduit between the arts and DEI. This quarter, we’re meeting with sculptor Kimber Fiebiger from Minneapolis, MN.
Featured image: “We the People” sculpture by Kimber Fiebiger used during The Forum’s 2021 Diversity Awards.
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What’s your connection to The Forum?
Kimber: I create the bronze sculptures that are given out at The Forum’s annual conference as leadership awards [- known as “The Forum’s Diversity Awards -] to people who have done outstanding work on issues of diversity and inclusiveness. I think it may be about seven years now.
How did this relationship begin and evolve over the years?
K: I met The Forum’s Executive Director Steve Humerickhouse while I was exhibiting my work at the Minneapolis Gay Pride Festival. He had to wake me up because I was napping behind a tree! I had not known about The Forum, and it has been inspiring and a big honor to be associated with him and the event.
Why do you continue working with The Forum?
K: Being the creator of the awards has enabled me to learn about the recipients of the awards, who these courageous leaders are, and the common sense moves they have made to include the disenfranchised and overlooked peoples in our community. The guest speakers are thoughtful and inspiring as well as the attendees of the event.
If you could pick out one award over the past few years, which would you choose and why?
K: My latest piece is called “We the People”. It is nine people in a group hug of unity with the world in the center. I decided on nine because it represents the number Black children who in 1957 entered Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas in order to integrate the school, and it created a spark that ignited the civil rights movement. The piece is very positive and shows a moment of togetherness that is hopeful and good. Although the fight for rights for all is a constant drama, it seems at times we are getting closer to equality. [But] It still has been 64 years since that event, and the civil rights movement is still a necessary battle.
How are your bronze sculptures made?
K: The process from start to finish can take from two months to six months depending on its size. Bronzes are made using the lost wax casting technique. After your original model is made, you create a silicone rubber mold with a plaster support. You remove your original and cast your wax print. This model is cleaned up and a ceramic shell mold is made around your wax. The wax is burned out of this shell and bronze is heated to 2,200 fahrenheit, and the molten metal is poured in. There is lot of grinding and metal work to prepare for the final patina. The piece is heated and chemicals are applied to give it its final color.
If it is large, it is cast in sections and welded together adding to the labor and time. I love to work intensively so the process had a lot of appeal to me as an art form.
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What’s your take on The Forum?
K: I am so grateful to have been chosen for my work. The Forum is such a great group of people that have interesting backgrounds and experiences. The speakers are people who are changing the world; they walk their talk and have pushed me harder to say something with my work. Art should go beyond decor and express something about our human condition.
The Forum brings together true leaders who challenge and educate us to be better humans. As usual we see push back against diversity and inclusiveness. It’s easy and cruel to pick on the disenfranchised. I thank goodness we are woke!
What’s one thing popular culture is getting right with the DEI narrative?
K: Today popular media is doing a much better job, and we are creating a golden period of movies, TV series, music, art, and sports heroes, writers and leaders. Popular Media is finally addressing past unfairness. As we are getting things right, we get to enjoy new voices that have been silenced and it is a wonderful time (as well as a trying time because others cannot accept the change).
What are you currently up to as an artist?
K: Right now I’m working on perfecting and enlarging some of my past pieces. Bronze sculpture has been traditionally a man’s world. Because of the Me Too movement, I am getting more attention paid to my work. I want to take my strongest ideas and commit myself to making less work but better work. In your youth you have so much to say, and I wanted to get out there. At this point in my life, I want to make some edits, make it bigger, and say it well.
If you’d like to learn more about Kimber’s work or if you’re in the Minneapolis area and would like to tour her extensive workshop and studio, you can find her at artbykimber.com.