Creating Outside (and Within) the Box

Dry Season I

Most kids love to draw, but Asheville artist Kim Hambric never cared for it. “I didn’t draw then, and I still can’t,” she says. Instead, at age 5, Hambric came up with her own collage process.

 She’s pretty much stuck with it ever since.

Kim Hambric is the queen of collage.
Photo by Rachel Pressley

“My grandmother used to buy polyester pants suits or whatnot through catalogs, and they’d send her all these fabric swatches,” says Hambric, who would play around with the small squares, and, as she recalls, “arrange them in different ways, try different color combinations.”

Today her home studio (where she also does abstract acrylic paintings using plastic hotel-key cards in lieu of brushes) is filled with dozens of meticulously organized and descriptively labeled boxes containing a treasure trove of collage materials. Hambric has amassed hundreds — perhaps thousands — of pieces of fabric and paper that she’s hand-stamped and hand-painted, along with a collection of image-filled old books she leafs through for ideas and inspiration.

A Month of Sundays

“If I’m trying to get a color just right, I may sponge paint onto pieces of paper until I have 14 different shades of green – and I may have another 400 pieces lying around the studio to choose from,” she explains. If the combo of colors, tones, and overall composition doesn’t “feel quite right,” she’ll continue to experiment, trusting her eyes and intuition while juxtaposing colors and patterns in a process she compares to seeking a balanced chemical pH. “One may be too acidic. Another may make me feel like I’m on a roller coaster or make my teeth hurt. It’s got to be a little exciting, but not too much.” 

Hambric then glues the individual pieces to birch panels and finishes them with a clear protective coating.


After quitting an unfulfilling office job where she found herself just answering phones and fetching coffee, Hambric wanted to do something “creative and artsy.” First she started quilting, giving the quilts to friends. “Then I’d go to their houses and find out that the quilts made really good dog beds. I made my own dresses, too, until someone said I looked a character from Little House on the Prairie.” 

The artist sorts through thousands of pieces of raw material.
Photo by Rachel Pressley

Next, Hambric taught herself fabric dyeing and started carving her own stamps to apply designs to paper or cloth using a sponge dipped in paint, returning to her childhood roots as a collage artist. “At some point, I took a business seminar for artists, and the guy doing it asked us about our favorite shapes. He said ‘triangle’ and all these hands shot up, and then ‘circle,’ and more hands shot up. Then he said ‘square’ and mine shot up — but I was the only one with my hand raised.” 

Dry Season II

For the past decade plus, Hambric has been working almost exclusively with checkerboard designs within a square framework. “I don’t know why — maybe I like to think outside the box.” 

Half the Fun is Getting There

AsheKim Hambric, Asheville, and on IG @kimberlyhambric. Hambric’s art is exhibited at Marquee, 36 Foundy St. in Asheville’s River Arts District,

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1 Comment

  1. says: Susan Hartl

    She, is a stunning artist. Bit jealous. See we grew up together and this was my thing. I am so proud of her, cause she has found her soul, while I have dabbled in many different mediums. And you go, HOGIE! Love ya!

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