Artist Spotlight: Kimball Anderson

Artist Spotlight: Kimball Anderson

Next up in our Artist Spotlight is Kimball Anderson, a long time friend of Open Door Arts, and featured artist at the Open Door Gallery in Boston.

Kimball makes comics for “people who fell off of the conveyor belt of life.” Since Kimball was young they’ve been disabled by ME/CFS and mental illness. They write and make art, and like to mix those together. Often this means making comics, or visual poetry. They are in a constant state of experimenting with format, medium, and writing, starting with a theme or a sensation and developing the project around it. This can lead to works that look and read very different, but they all have a similar gentle, probing sensibility. 

Recently, Kimball has been playing with how to portray brain fog using repeated words groping for the rest of the sentence they are meant for, like a word just on the tip of the tongue trying to come out. And in an upcoming work, portraying the pressures SSI rules around marriage puts on romantic relationships. 

Three orange panels and background lines. A blue hand holds a pan, a potholder held between. A blue figure stands in a kitchen. Water pours down into a colander, and round little shapes collect at the bottom.
“Social Security, page 17”  
Colored pencil, graphite stick. 8″x5.1″

In a broader sense, their work is always touching on the ignored, quiet spaces along the periphery that people with chronic illness fall into. Always in some way about finding beauty and transcendence in the state of rest, in “wasted time”.

“what is a body/what is a body” it says in yellow, handwritten text floating near the top of the page. Under the text are flowing white lines tinged with blue, lines that curve in unison. What might be a thumb is visible, and through that you could guess that maybe the shape it connects to is a distorted hand. The background is made of blocks of red and black, film grain and jpeg ghosting creating a consistent texture that might have the feel of moss if you were able to touch it.
“what is a body, page 1” Digital photo collage, pencil, scanner manipulation.
A thin wobbly panel stretched from the top of the page to the bottom, with a watercolor and pencil painting of part of a face in it. The image shows an ear, the shadows between folds purple and red. A creased neck and cheek in orange and purple. And the dark purple and red shadow around an eye, just a corner of the white of the eye visible. To the right it says "but I can't carry my weight", and a little lower "I can't"
“Manhood, page 54”
Watercolor pencil, graphite. 7.5″x5.1″

Kimball has a complicated relationship with “professionalism”, as it comes to their art. It seems to them that professionalism is a standard built to weed out marginalized people, a way to put a good face on maintaining structural inequality. They often feel like aiming for perfect clean lines and writing words neatly is like trying to meet an ableist standard that it’s not healthy to chase. Sometimes their work gets messier as rebellion, and then cleaner as the rebellion just feels like shooting themself in the foot. And sometimes it feels like messier art has more character, more depth.

The page is covered by rich purple watercolor, and over it are translucent sheets of paper making panels that covering it with a milky white. The large panel covering most of the page is covered by drawings of ants, all the same size and crawling all around. They look realistic, but the lines that make their forms are energetic and scribbly. Half of the ants are milkier, as they were drawn on the opposite side of the translucent paper. Below, in a thin panel of that same paper, it says "it all felt so heavy/but her determination grew and grew".
“I want to be good, page 88” Pencil, watercolor, matte medium on yupo paper. 6.7″x5.4″
A purple sky with dark tree shapes against it. Pines coming up from the bottom of the page, and a leafless limb of a winter tree comes in from the right. All of the little spindly branches spread out from under a panel in the middle, which is a snippet of abstract art. It's mostly gray but with spots of white coming through bright. There's a softness to it, and a heaviness. In the middle it says "falling" in purple text. There's a sense of dark and disorienting longing to it all.
“The Light Today, page 144” Photo, oil pastel, colored pencil, digital. 4.8″x 4.8″

Kimball has recently had work in literary magazines such as Corporeal Magazine, Flux, and Driftwood. As well as comics anthologies like Ink Brick, When I Was Me, and How to Wait. And will be in the upcoming CBA double volume 56-57: Uncomics. 

You can find more of their comics online at, or find them on tumblr and twitter as “earnestattempts” or “symbolandperson” on instagram. You can also check out their patreon where they make and mail a new comic/visual poem that is usually 12-20 pages long every month, at If you act now they’ll catch you up on the 17 part series that is just about to complete, and is currently only available this way!

Kimball sits on a beach, wearing glasses and looking contemplative.
Kimball Anderson

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