For Desiree Warren, art creativity may come through an idea from somebody else’s junk pile.
Warren, a 2001 Ottawa High School graduate, is always on the look for simple things, such as a broken hinge or left over paint to come up with art projects.
“As an artist, it is not hoarding, it is keeping art supplies,” Warren, who lives in midtown Kansas City, Missouri, with her husband, said. “It is important to me to use what is around. It is in my blood. I have a network of friends that if I can’t use it, they can.”
Warren has worked hard since graduating from the University of Kansas in 2005 to get her artwork noticed. She received a break earlier this year when she was chosen for the Women to Watch show in the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Missouri. The Women to Watch exhibition series features emerging or under-represented artists. This year’s exhibition explores metals as an artistic medium.
Parameters for the show were women artists within the first 10 years of their careers and living within 60 miles of Kansas City.
Warren was surprised to be selected for the exhibition, which started in June and runs through Jan. 28, 2018. Warren said there were 50 applicants and the list was pared down to seven or eight. The finalists had studio visits from the show’s curator — Barbara O’Brien, Kemper Museum’s executive director — and five were selected.
“This is such a long show and prestigious environment and organization,” Warren said. “It is all women, which is especially awesome. It is a big break. This is a pretty important opportunity that I got.”
Warren said her art in the show was based on what O’Brien saw during her studio visit.
“I have gotten a lot of really positive support,” Warren said. “You look in and somebody is nose deep into one of your pieces. It makes you feel pretty good that your work is out there, and people are noticing. It is really great to hear how other people connect with your work. More people are going to see this than anything.”
Warren likes all kinds of art, working with vinyl, wood, aluminum, clay and other materials.
“I like to jump around,” she said. “It is good I have a wide variety. The work I have at the Kemper is a lot different [than other art].”
Warren’s creative mind began as a child growing up just outside of Ottawa.
“I was always an artist,” she said. “I started out making little sculptures out of mud when I was a kid. I expanded out to do 3D work a couple of years ago. It is a lot easier to store and sell things that are flat.”
She likes to play around with materials to see what she can create.
“Taking one element and twisting it and changing it,” she said. “I am trying to push it and see how I can ruin it. It is the basics of design theory. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
Warren’s artist career started slowly. She was working service jobs after graduating from Kansas, but kept honing her art skills.
“I did some other production work for artists,” Warren said. “I did little art shows to stay in the loop. I was always trying to find an outlet. I traveled regionally on the art show circuit. It is a lot of work. A lot of time being away from home.”
Warren said this past year, she took some time off to get her works in gallery venues.
“I started working on going on abstract again,” she said. “Abstract is really hard for people to connect with. I understand it. It gives the people freedom to write their own story. I am trying to make more fine arts.”
Warren said her artwork is starting to receive some attention. Later this year, she has a show scheduled for the Michigan Medical Center.
“I am applying to gallery shows,” she said. “Some things are in the works for exhibitions.”