Monday, February 27, 2012

GITP Guest Blogger #5: Artist, Writer, Mother, "Turbo-Charged Dreamer" Kim Gledhill

1.Tell us about yourself. What would you like "Girls in a Tight Place" readers to know about you?

 When I was a little kid I wanted to be a mom, an artist, a writer and a professional soccer player. I never really regretted past 6th grade that there was no pro contract in the cards for me, but I do feel incredibly blessed to have my son. I’m also grateful to have been able to spend a good part of my life making images and designing things and getting paid (at least sometimes) to write.

 I have an old friend who told me a few months ago that she mentioned me in a corporate marketing meeting, describing me as a person who doesn’t care about the same things other people care about. My feelings were a little hurt at first, but it hit me that she was right. I think what she meant is that my happiness is not dependent on the same things that affect most people in bigger ways.

 The thing I believe that is actually most different about me is that I’m a dreamer. A turbo-charged dreamer, I guess. I’ve had premonitions in dreams that have come true since childhood. I don’t have them consistently at this point in my life, but I think they have made me view the world from a different perspective. I see reality as something very malleable rather than linear. I look at what happens in our daily lives as a story within a story, like there’s a bigger framework for what’s going on. Not that I always like what’s on my plate, but I fully accept it as necessarily mine. I can be very much at peace on an innermost level, but pretty discontent about what’s happening at the surface at the exact same moment. Like now. My brother said to me recently, “You’d be happy anywhere.” That’s basically true in one sense. I think in the past as a younger person, I tried to compensate for my nature by dotting every "i" and crossing every "t" in a very down-to-earth way. My worst fear was being regarded as flaky when I wanted to be academic. It’s liberating not to care at this point.

2. Are you in a tight place? If so, what are you trying to do about it?

I’m in the perfect storm of tight places: I’m at a turning point in marriage, finances, home life, and career path. Everything is in flux. The first thing I’m trying to do is make this NOT feel like a tight place for my son, to make him feel just cushioned by love. I’m trying to put my spiritual beliefs into practice full-force—hopefully to affect the outcome of what I’m facing with a very positive energy. At the same time, I’m trying to do every tangible, worldly thing I can think of to create the best possible situation. Some of this overlaps with the spiritual, like doing reiki to keep myself well, but a lot of it is pouring myself into my work to try to forge a new path and create new opportunities. I read a great analogy in a book called City Dharma, comparing our struggles to a fly in a car that’s stuck inside the windshield and trying frantically to get out. When it finally gives up and stops struggling, the wind whisks it out the side window. I’m shooting for that. I want to hold the true essentials near and dear, but to let go of the peripheral things and end up in the place I want to be.

 3.What do you want to get done this year? 

Well, it’s a tall order, but here I go. I’ve written an autobiographical book called Seeing in the Dark, and I want to get it published in a meaningful way. I’ve been working on it for a few years, but I’m really just about to start on the path of earnestly trying to find a publisher now or figuring out the best alternative route.

 There are also a couple of projects in the works, professional and otherwise, which I want to bring to fruition to the best of my ability. I was just hired to design a new print magazine, so I’m very excited about that. I’ve designed books but never a monthly publication, so this feels like a great opportunity. I’m also organizing a ping pong tournament in May in a Lower East Side neighborhood park, called Gulick Park, which I’ve been involved with. I’m a complete goofball about ping pong. This will be the third tournament, and it’s been suggested to me to really expand the scope of this one, so I’m aiming to step it up a bit. I love the idea of ping pong as a point of public convergence, bringing lots of different people together. It feels so refreshingly simple and real in the face of virtual everything. Above all else, I want to make sure my son’s world remains feeling stable and full of love, to find the most benevolent way for all of us.

4.What inspires you?

Where to start? Alice Neel, Lucien Freud, Paula Rego. Old Marimekko prints. Black-and-white photos from the '30s and '40s that show colorful lives. The instrumentals to Godspeed You Black Emporer. Carson McCullers at age 23.

 Everyday, I feel inspired walking by the buildings in the East Village—all that amazing decorative masonry along the tops of what were only considered tenements when they were built. I’m struck by the painstaking work that went into all those sculptural elements. I think you actually feel that in New York City in so many ways—such an accumulation of pride, blood, sweat and tears here, from every age. It’s in the air somehow. I’m also inspired by different aspects of some of the same things that scare the hell out of me. For example, I lament about what we’ve lost in this digital age, where everyone is so distracted by 50 million things and a dozen different devices that interfere with just being present in the moment. But on the other hand, I get excited seeing how this virtual connectivity can be used to make huge changes and to ultimately bring people together. It also makes me hopeful when it’s smart and super-motivated, young 20-somethings who are doing these innovative things. I feel like society will stand a good, fighting chance in their hands.

5.  What is your favorite legwear?

Wool tights have changed my life. My favorite pair have multi-hued grey and purple stripes. I used to hate winter when I wore jeans all the time, because I was always freezing and I’m more of a skirt person. It hit me a few years ago that wool tights with wool or corduroy skirts are the key to winter warmth and happiness.

Editor's note:  By the way, Kim's book, Seeing in the Dark, is astounding, emotionally dismantling, and deeply inspiring--not to mention it's liberally illustrated with Kim's stunning art.    You can read it here.  


  1. kim, after reading your book i'm dying to know how you will ride out your current perfect storm. i was so interested and inspired by the way you were led to solutions, the way you brought about change, the way you withstood pain and really frightening episodes. i'm ready for part deux! (so keep the girls posted!)

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  3. Hi Lara—I'm dying to know, too! Trying to bring it all into focus and everyday hoping there might be some little breakthrough. (But I remind myself of that dream of being on the open sea when I was happy.) Thanks so much for your feedback...I guess I'm just really used to obstacles! I will definitely keep you posted...I'm hoping I'll eventually have good reason to write the next part, which I
    'dlove to be able to call: "Opening a Door."