Printmaker Kimberly Lavon debuts new projects and enhances old ones

Kimberly Lavon grew up in an artistic household. She has musicians in her family on her mother’s side, her father is an artist, and her parents even met at an art class. That’s why it wasn’t a surprise when as a child, Lavon was drawn to creating her own artwork. She called it a “natural progression” of things.

“I drew and made art as a kid, graduated from high school and then became a tattoo artist’s apprentice,” Lavon, 36, said. “I did that for a while, stopped, went to college at Kendall College of Art and Design and then graduated. Did an apprenticeship as a tattoo artist again and then during that time, also opened my gallery and print shop, and I also do graphic design.”

As if she weren’t busy enough, Lavon is also working toward a master’s degree that she hopes to pursue in London, Atlanta or California. However, her dabbling into multiple forms of art is how she got into linocut prints and Chine-Collé — a method that allows an artist to print on especially delicate materials. That is also the medium of the artwork on this week’s cover, called “Radio,” which will be donated to the Arts Council of Lansing to be auctioned at the organization’s annual Holiday Glitter fundraiser.

“That particular radio I believe my grandmother had somewhere, and I thought it was really cool looking, so I wanted to encapsulate that particular time frame, that era, with that radio,” Lavon said.

Lavon created this piece originally as a promotional series for the Common Ground Music Festival, but the one on the cover has a few added tweaks.

“The whole collection was objects that make music,” Lavon said. “So, for Common Ground, we have country to rap and everything in between, and the only unifying factor was things that make music or music generally. A phonograph, a radio, a microphone — things that are all related to music is all part of that collection. I didn’t want the art to be only for that event, so I started experimenting with things and used some paper that was left over from another project, and kind of combined everything to make that piece.”

Lavon’s body of work is broad and also covers more difficult topics. Recently, Lavon began to work on a project geared toward helping the survivors of sexual trauma.

“I was trying to tell the stories of a few friends who had experienced some incredible hardships, and they didn’t have a strong enough voice themselves to communicate said trauma or ask for help, and I was using that, to kind of be their voice for them,” Lavon said. “To shed some light on their experiences in hopes of helping them and people who had similar experiences.”

The two-year project is something that Lavon hopes to finish soon, but she admitted that it was an “emotionally draining” process.

“I kind of just put it on the backburner for the moment, because telling someone else’s story via art and the nuances and things encapsulating everything that they wanted conveyed, as well as making it in a way that made sense — it was a lot,” Lavon said. “It’s still there, it just hasn’t been fully fleshed out yet.”

For now, Lavon is focused on printmaking, and a new project that will combine printmaking and food.

“I absolutely love food to pieces and a lot of my friends are professional chefs from around the United States and beyond, and I thought, ‘What does everybody love?’” Lavon said.

But much like her other project about sexual trauma, there will be a serious edge to this piece as well, which fans of Lavon’s work can look forward to in the future.

“I’m thinking about making correlations from objectifying women’s bodies to food,” Lavon said.