Amy Kim Keeler

Text By Kate Sullivan
Photos By Jay Carroll

 We caught up with fiber artist Amy Kim Keeler at her home in the Mojave Desert. A nurse by trade, we learned that Amy’s process of hand stitching allows her to let go of the anticipation and diligence it takes to tend to the needs of others. The patterns and shapes she makes in her art are rhythmic meditations and a form of deep self care.


 What do you collect? 

Books. The walls of my house are lined with bookshelves. I love word choice and the flow of a sentence. It's kind of like music. I don’t do e-readers because I underline phrases and circle words. Sometimes I go back to books, but most of the time I keep them as a reminder that I loved them. Re-reading is a sacrifice because you only have so much time. I also collect rocks. I think about the process of formation, age and motion. 

I keep things I feel are going to be a lost art. For example, I hold on tightly to the letters and postcards I receive because nothing feels thoughtful like that anymore. You really have to slow down to be able to sit and write. Someone can send a nice text, but you don't save it. They are so fleeting.

I am sentimental about stuff. This relationship with objects comes from my childhood. My parents divorced when I was five and I was with my mom most of the week and I would see my dad on weekends. If he would give me something, that would kind of take his place and fill his absence.


Where do you draw inspiration? 

The natural environment reveals so much. Looking closely at plants, leaves, flowers you see that nature is the best artist out there. The parallels are so interesting. For example, a tortoise shell design can look just like tree rings. These are two totally different organisms!

I like to think about water and the path that it forms. Why doesn’t it make a straight line? There is a book that my partner turned me on to by Theodor Shwenk called “Sensitive Chaos.” It goes into the flow of water and air. I am fascinated by nature. It informs my work. 

I explore human made materials layered with organic forms. For example cardboard, which used to be a natural material and then we forced it into a rigid structure. What happens if a more natural rhythm is layered on top if it? Can they exist in harmony? How do they work together?


Where does your artwork sit in contrast, or parallel to, other things going on in your life? 

I have a lot going on. I have two jobs as a registered nurse in obstetrics. One job is a few hours away roundtrip so my schedule can get pretty crazy. I also unexpectedly rescued 30 very sick tortoises from an illegally-run “shelter” in Joshua Tree. These people were taking in tortoises, but not caring for them. They were operating under tax exemption status and collecting donations and the tortoises were left with no access to fresh water or food. Most of them died and I am caring for the rest of them in my home or fostering them out. It has been heartbreaking and insane.

So I am tending to a lot right now and my relationship with art is about being able to give up control. Healthcare can be so black and white. You need to remain diligent and in control. I honestly hate having to be in control but in these situations, there isn't much choice.

My art allows me to relinquish control. I don’t think about what I am going to do. I see myself as a sort of conduit I don't have to make choices, it just seems to happen.


How would you describe your mindset while you are working on your art? 

When I am working on a piece it is the one place where I find the most peace and calm. There is repetition, slowness, and meditation. I love being led through the process by the work itself.


Amy Kim Keeler, Sunsets With Les, 2021


How do you connect with color?

I like to sit back and let color drive. Color is feeling and emotion. Color is infinite to me. Maybe scientifically it isn't, but I think about it that way. I often don't deliberately choose the colors in my work. I am able to let go and find that one color will frequently inform the next.

Amy Kim Keeler, Newly Night, 2020

Amy Kim Keeler, Back When All Things Were Possible, 2021

Amy Kim Keeler, There Are No Individuals In A Forest, 2021


Amy Kim Keeler’s art pieces are created in her studio in Yucca Valley, California. The collection curated by Slow Roads for Gallery, Spring 2023 included nine original pieces created from 2019-2021.