Grand Rapids, MI
“At its heart, my drive to make art is about communication. I've found that in being open and sharing my own experiences with ADHD and Autism, I've been able to help break down the stigmas and stereotypes that are often associated with them.”
Kae is a photographer, artist, and curator whose images share the grace of her surroundings and everyday objects, while educating others about what it is like to be neurodivergent. Raised in Cedar Springs, Michigan, she has fond memories of art throughout her childhood. She remembers being breathless as she watched the opening of The Little Mermaid at the age of 4, enthralled by the magical moving images. Growing up, her mom ran a ceramics class out of her basement and did commercial photography, so Kae was surrounded by creativity and absorbed the experiences like a sponge.
As a child and young adult, she tapped into art-making in order to escape and feel safe. She encountered many barriers navigating a world that is not always built for individuals with Attention Deficit Disorder, ADHD, and Autism, or ASD. She shares, “Being diagnosed with ADHD brought additional mental health issues like anxiety and depression. I often coped by creating entire worlds and stories that I could venture off into when I felt particularly alone or anxious.” Artmaking became key to coping and communicating feelings.
As Kae matured, she searched for the right medium to fit her needs. Trying her hand at sculpture, illustration, painting, ceramics, and metalworking, she eventually landed on photography as her niche. Journeying through these allowed her to identify themes she enjoyed across mediums, such as emergence of bright colors, soft light, and the beauty of stillness.
Her artistic process solidified when she was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 30. This diagnosis clarified why following traditional business and artmaking practices were so difficult. With greater understanding of herself, Kae began recalibrating her practice. “I was able to find new approaches to building my creative process that built in a balance of flexibility and structure that I could manage with my ADHD,” she explains.
Kae's work often explores themes of identity, intersectionality, and the challenges faced by those who experience the world differently. She seeks to create work that is broadly accessible on the surface, while also offering a unique perspective that can educate viewers about the experiences of those who are neurodivergent. She shares, “Education is at the core of my work, whether that's helping someone who shares in my experiences find the words to articulate them for the first time, or helping someone understand that.”
Kae’s work has been exhibited widely across the Great Lakes region, including at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, the Grand Valley State University Art Gallery, and the Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute. Her ongoing series, titled (less), is an exhibit that seeks to represent ADHD symptoms through a variety of photographic styles. The series includes three collections thus far: time(less), which addresses time blindness, cease(less), which explores emotional dysregulation, and mind(less), which delves into the ephemeral nature of memory and ADHD.
When embarking on a new collection, she considers themes and techniques that would best convey the subject matter. She likes to focus intently and explore one theme at a time, however, when between physical shoots, she plans for upcoming series in order to transition smoothly from one production to another. For landscapes and images of the natural environment, it can take some time to get the right shot - anywhere from a few months to over a year. Kae’s patience pays off when she finally clicks the shutter on the shot she’s been waiting for.
Kae is excited to partner with ArtLifting to create a new avenue and audience for her work. “My neurodivergence makes it difficult to find jobs that are accommodating to my needs and work style. Creating and selling art is one way I can work within my limitations while also working toward my goal of providing for my family,” she shares. As a femme presenting member of the queer community, she is deeply passionate about intersectional feminism and queer validation. She also works to continually educate herself on white privilege and how race impacts marginalized communities.
She also volunteers at a local community gallery and event space called the Division Avenue Arts Collective (DAAC), where her background in art installation has been an asset to their exhibitions. When she’s not volunteering or capturing moments through her lens, Kae is often snuggling and playing with her two dogs and three cats. She enjoys listening to audio books, especially those in the realms of science fiction, queer, magical, or fantasy. Living near the Great Lakes, she swims at every opportunity she can. ArtLifting is excited to support Kae and spread her message and engaging art into new spaces.
Prints by Kae (she/her/hers)
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