Imagine sitting in a restaurant, on the subway, at home watching television: scraps of conversations, unintentionally absorbed, will echo through your mind. Kaiser records and collects these statements: expressions and fragments of dialogues, spoken, whispered in private, or exclaimed in public. The situations she notices are clipped out of contexthighlighted from her daily routine. A glimpse at a minute drama, a quick look at a little tragedy: characters in a dialog become heroes for a moment, and their surroundings fade away. But first and foremost, the short sequences Kaiser witnesses bear a sense of humour, of comic relief.
Kaiser depicts her findings in the form of comic strips. She appropriates vintage comic strips and reworks them to reflect the aforementioned conversations. In the garage of her 81 year old grandmother's house in Southern Kentucky, she found several old comic books.
Her heroes remind us of the time, when we were young, and delighted reading the comics that appeared in daily newspapers and delighted us with short, often comic, episodes. She adopts their special look and behaviour; in particular, the mannered gestures and costumes found in old Westerns.
For me, comic relief often takes the form of a bumbling, wisecracking sidekick of the hero or villain in a work of fiction, which, in my case, happens to be old comic books. The sidekicks in my work usually comment on the absurdity of the hero's situation and make comments that are sometimes inappropriate for a character who is to be otherwise taken seriously.
In the 1960s Roy Lichtenstein discovered the potential of cartoons. In a similar vein, Kaiser's work is composed of pictures cut out from a narrative sequence. A single image becomes an icon, and the formerly irrelevant words in the speech bubbles are elevated to aphorisms. But whereas Roy Lichtenstein reduced the drawing to plain models in his famous paintings, Kaiser captures the fleeting moments in sketchy images, and speech bubbles are filled with handwritten condensations of conversations. Like a diary, moments of her life now appear on the paper.
The process of making these images provides a sense of comic relief. In some cases, appropriating such imagery is a cathartic release of emotional tension that may have resulted from a comic episode interposed in the midst of dramatic events… Inspired by Woody Allen, events from my everyday experience become fodder for the narratives I construct. At times, I use poetic license and stretch the truth in my narratives.
Kaiser earned a BFA in Painting and Printmaking from Colorado State University, in Fort Collins, and an MFA in Painting from the University of Chicago. Since 2002, she has participated in several group exhibitions in Chicago and is presently teaching at the American Academy of Art in Chicago.