Kim Howard ‘89 painted a big picture, approximately 65.5 x 4.9 feet to be exact. With a picture that big, there has to be more to it.
Howard was born in Muncie, Indiana, but spent her childhood and early adulthood in Auburn.
“Growing up in Auburn gave me a feeling of ‘belonging’,” Howard said. “Actually attending Auburn University gave me the feeling that ‘I can go anywhere and do anything!’.”
While at Auburn, Howard majored in the arts and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. After graduation, she worked for Auburn Educational TV as an art director.
“I worked with paste on letters!” Howard said. “When they finally wanted to buy a computer since I was spending most of my time on campus instead of in the office, they insisted on a PC instead of a Mac…I then moved on to Moinx & Co. and designed t-shirts on a Mac.”
Through the years of 1993-2003, Howard worked on various exhibitions and room and garden design. From 2003-2010, she worked for a company called Trostwerk designing coffins. Howard created the logo and website for the company, as well as designed all three of their mortuaries. Howard says she still works for the company online and makes yearly trips to Hamburg.
“Working so closely with people who do not have long to live and or hearing about loved ones who have passed unexpectedly made me realize how important and short life is,” Howard said. “Do what you set out to do, today, not tomorrow.”
For the next few years, Howard worked on Little Gallery, inviting people to paint their own coffins or decorate the coffin of loved ones. She also had several exhibitions featuring artwork from various artists from Hamburg.
In 2010 she moved to Faial, Azores in Portugal.
“I found the ‘cheese factory’ and have been working on putting it together ever since,” Howard said. “It has definitely been an adventure, I have had birds and mice in my house as well as water and waterfalls inside.”
The roof of her horse stables collapsed due to a storm last year and she has lived without a working shower in her house for over two years.
“I just put a new roof on the house this year, it’s the first winter I’ve had without 10-20 buckets of water in various corners of the house!”
To Howard, being around nature and all its colors truly inspires her and translates into her artwork. She also focuses on different people and their cultures, landscapes and animals.
Taking all of her passions into account, Howard created Small World-Big Picture.
“I have traveled a lot and met many artists along the way, most of which usually do some sort of other work to pay the bills,” Howard said. “There are only a few that have managed to support themselves solely through their art. I thought this would be a nice way to connect them.”
After Howard created her first big picture, she wanted other artists from around the world to do the same. Her Big Picture, Part One includes brightly colored landscapes filled with mountains, trees, oceans and even Auburn University.
The idea behind the Big Picture is to cut off both ends of the painting, called cornerstones, and send it to two artists. The artists then create the next big picture. When they are finished, their cornerstone will be cut off and sent to the next artists.
“This is how we plan to create the longest ongoing painting in the world: painted by artists all over the world,” Howard said. “All cornerstones are sent ‘home’ to the Little Gallery, presently being built in Faial. The cornerstones will be collected for a traveling art exhibition.”
The Big Picture has artists sending in pieces from Hamburg, Berlin and even Auburn. Howard reached out to University art professor, Wendy Deschene.
Two of Deschene’s classes participated in creating a Big Picture focused on incorporating all of the main aspects and traditions of Auburn.
Stay tuned for Part Two, focused on the experience of creating a Big Picture for Auburn.