We had the good fortune of connecting with Khiri Lee and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Khiri, any advice for those thinking about whether to keep going or to give up?
As a full time artist I don’t think I will ever give up on making art. I may at some point give up on making art as a career, and my hope is that it will be an easy decision. I left my job in the non profit sector in December 2017 to pursue art full time. I had a lot of conversations with friends, family, my partner, and the company I was leaving, before making the dive. I also did a ton of research on what it would take, and what it really meant to be a full-time artist. In one blog post I came across the advice that it takes at least five years to establish yourself as an artist in the world. Anytime I feel disheartened I remember that I am still in the establishing phase of my career, and I promised not to give up before I hit that five year benchmark. So in December 2022 I will sit down to assess if it is valuable to keep going or not. I think setting hard deadlines or creating a quantifiable plan is a necessity when striking out into new territory as an entrepreneur or self-employed business owner. This helps me know where I stand on the continuum of keep going or give up.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
The art I make is woven with magick. I call myself an artwitch because each painting I create is infused with intention. I seek to call in archetypal energies and revisit old myths through color, texture, and symbolism to see how they can spark a new story today. Being an artist and witch is a sacred calling to activate people’s imagination, to communicate a new mythos into the world that serves our shifting communities, and to invoke a brighter future for us all. It took me a long time to own my role as witch in the public. It is a place where I feel myself on the fringes, even with the growing “witch wave.” I was reminded of my outsider status last year when I attended the Womxn’s March in Denver with the Shamanic Dolls. Several times we were verbally accosted by people with differing beliefs, yelling at us to “repent our wicked ways.” It had the opposite effect on me. I became more public with my views, bringing more visibility to my beliefs, and creating even more magick art. The result has been exciting. You hear the soundbytes all the time about being yourself and being a model for something different. Not everyone is going to understand what i’m offering or creating, but those that do are wonderful, bright, amazing people. This year my heart keeps being pulled to the energy of the Pollinators. The muse caught me in the first few days of January and I generated a new series of paintings dedicated to the birds, bees, and butterflies who pollinate all the flowers and food that bring vibrancy to our world. I named this series “Poems for Pollinators.” The pollinators are essential beings. Unfortunately, with global warming and pesticides, pollinators are in grave danger of disappearing. When I feel this fear I paint a spell to call them back, to protect the bees, to honor the birds and bats, to weave a sacred circle of protection around life. My goal this spring is to convert large portions of my yard into pollinator gardens, then leaving the rest wild and natural for the local flora and fauna to thrive. Intention is only half of manifestation, the other half is action. The other way I am engaging with pollinator magick is through my latest zine project, 52 Petals. Writing zines began as a way for me to share perks with my Patreon Patrons, and has evolved into a great passion. Anyone can write a zine, which is a self published booklet or pamphlet. I write a weekly zine, folded from one sheet of paper. The theme of 52 Petals is the language of flowers. Each issue explores a different bloom and ways to incorporate them into everyday magick. In past projects I explored the kingdom of birds, 52 Feathers in 2019, and the realm of crystals, 52 Facets in 2020. I sell zines at local zine fests, online through Etsy, and offer them as perks to my patrons on Patreon. Zines are an exciting tool for getting your personal message out in the world without having to go through formal channels, so it is another way for me to share my voice as an artist and a witch.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I live in Beautiful Boulder, CO where there are tons of great things to do. Even during the pandemic most of these activities are still available to enjoy with a little planning and a mask. To start I would take them for some delicious coffee and snacks at Beleza Coffee on Broadway and catch up. Then go for a hike along any one of the great options in our backyard; Eldorado Canyon, Settlers Park, Mt. Sanitas, Chautauqua. If they enjoy the outdoors we could choose a different place each day. For a delicious meal and breathtaking view I would visit Corrida. They are a Spanish restaurant with fantastic tapas, fun tasting-menus, and a solid bar. The staff there are amazing as well and make every visit special. Even though I live here I still enjoy sharing the sights and sounds of Pearl Street with visitors. I like window shopping and watching the street performers. On the west end I like to take friends round Trident Bookstore, and then once everyone is tired of walking around, grab a cocktail and a burger at Jungle Burger, which is our local tiki bar. If time allowed one of my favorite special adventures is a visit to the Carousel of Happiness in Nederland. It’s a magical place with a wild menagerie of animals to choose from and a working Wurlitzer organ.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to dedicate my shoutout to Turning the Wheel Productions. All of the amazing people I met through this organization shaped who I am today, and how I approach art making. TTW is committed to building healthier communities through art, movement, music, and the power of saying “Yes!” I especially want to thank my mentors and friends Alana Shaw, Tanja Asmus, Lizzi Juda, Holly Hubbard, and everyone on the National Team who championed me to pursue dreams. They offer great workshop and retreats when they aren’t busy bringing life-changing programming to kids across the country, and Alana has written two amazing books which I reference frequently. “The Body Now, Building the Yes Collective,” and “Dancing our Way Home.” I would also be remiss if I didn’t shoutout my husband Zac, who is a constant source of support and love.