Keetra Dean Dixon: A Little Knowledge and Other Minor Daredeviling

Walking us through her widely diverse array of works, Keetra Dean Dixon delighted and inspired her TYPO audience today. Initially showing some of her past work, her inquisitive nature immediately became evident through her thoughtful, experimental, and sincerely absurd projects, such as The Anonymous Hugging Wall and her Union Sleeve. Keetra then broke up the rest of her presentation into parts titled Thinking Through Making and Making Through Breaking.

photo by Amber Gregory

Thinking Through Making describes her rapid process of choosing a subject, producing a piece and doing so over and over and over again. The purpose being to just create without over analyzing one’s concept and process. This fast-paced process resulted in many creations, including her Objects of Codependency. One of these was her double-loon project, Just Between You and Me, in which Keetra created a balloon with two mouth pieces, that can only be blown up when two humans are blowing into it at the same time. The process of doing so goes from being very awkward (as the two people are forced to stand close to each other, staring at each other’s faces) to unifying (as they have to learn to breath at the same time and work together). Eventually the balloon is blown up and the two users are no longer able to see the other’s face, and then process of deflating the balloon begins.

From here Keetra’s work became more focused in experience, calling for social participation. Additionally, she began gaining more insight and inspiration from the physical mechanics of the piece, as well as the beginning conceptualization of the piece, leading into her idea of Making Through Breaking. This process of hacking and “misusing” tools is exemplified by her project Wonder Kept: Souvenirs of the Unexpected; aka Tricky Photobooth. The booth was presented in semi-public spaces as a typical photo booth holding no indication of it’s unique qualities. Users entered the booth, pose for 2 shots & exited as usual. During the developing process, the photos were “analyzed” & customized with forecasts consisting of patterns, symbols & messages. Keetra’s ideas of hacking and “misuse” allowed her to turn this ordinary object into something that instilled wonder in people.
Dixon, Keetra_Original

Keetra Dean Dixon

Artist and designer Keetra Dean Dixon straddles a wide set of mediums in her playful and process-oriented work. With a foothold in graphic design, she often reaches into speculative terrain including experiential work, installation, and sculpture. Her projects are spurred on by the fallibility of communication, attempts to connect, and unintended output. Keetra’s work has been featured in étapes, GOOD, and Surface magazines, exhibited at the Walker Art Center and the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, as well as included in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection. In 2013 Dixon will be partaking in INCONGRUOUS, a Museum of Arts and Design residency for brazen experimentation in design practices.  

Throughout her presentation Keetra emphasizes the idea of embracing the unknown and how for many projects she has “walked the line of knowing and unknowing.” Delving deeper into this idea, she described three of her “risky projects”. In the first, she learned from scratch how to create 3d objects for a museum piece. In the second, she created layered wax type with her husband, which were not only extremely heavy, but extremely ugly during the process, resulting in her not knowing how it would all turn out until right before its due date. In the third, she created a swing installation in a skyway that could have easily resulted in human beings repeatedly crashing into each other. But no matter what the outcome, Keetra proclaims learning being her ultimate and most valuable paycheck, and the knowledge that truly anything is possible.