student and alumnx art spaces, collectives, and organizations

Profile: The Kitchen Sink Project with Alumnx Naomi Even-Aberle (W 19), and Nik Aberle

Naomi  Founder & Co-Curator

Creating artist opportunities, dismantling and reassigning meaning to space, and battling the curatorial norms are all hot topics for Independent Curator, Artist, and Martial Artist Naomi Even-Aberle. As the Founder and Co-Curator of The Kitchen Sink Project, Naomi organizes and premiers both national and international art exhibitions directly in the confines of her home and studio space.

Naomi founded The Kitchen Sink Project to reimagine exhibition spaces by utilizing the artist’s home to break down barriers and respond to the need for more accessible exhibition spaces, especially in the midwest. There are rigid institutional categorizations in contemporary art: how it should be displayed, experienced, and what it should look like. The Kitchen Sink Project and Naomi’s tactics slice through these barriers by using personal space as public space both physically and in the digital world.

Nik  Co-Curator

Nik most enjoys challenging the status quo, both in regards to his own personal artwork and in how he curates. As an installation artist, graphic designer, and interactive artist, he strives to give viewers a unique experience at all times that forces them to think and consume outside of their normal routines. As Co-Curator of The Kitchen Sink Project, Nik assists with artist selection as well as install and de-install, preferring to be someone behind the scenes.

What is/are your mission/goals?

We are taking inspiration from the phrase, “everything but the kitchen sink”. The phrase originated around the early 1900s and the first print reference can be found in 1918 in the newspaper, The Syracuse Herald. The expression became popular during World War II, where it was said that everything but the kitchen sink was thrown at the enemy.

As artists, we believe that creating space to nurture, grow, and share the process and work of other artists is important. To this end, we curate an exhibition space within our very own kitchen. Unlike the original idiom, the project strives to leave nothing out – even saying yes to the kitchen sink.

Who makes up The Kitchen Sink Project?

The Kitchen Sink Project is a curatorial and exhibition project between myself and my husband, Nik Aberle, in Rapid City, South Dakota USA. Since both of us are artists, our selection process is quite diverse – because we ourselves make very different art. My role is the connector and planner, while my husband’s role is behind the scenes, doing tech set up, and being an idea generator. It works well for us, and it has brought us closer together and provided amazing energy to our relationship and our respective art practices.

Personally, my favorite part is being able to meet and engage with other artists and artistic practices. My personal artistic exploration has exploded since working with, and meeting, other artists from around the world. I now have more ideas than I know what to do with as The Kitchen Sink Project connects with more and more people every exhibition.

How and when did you start?

The Kitchen Sink Project was first visualized and imagined when I was in my last semester of graduate school; and we, as soon-to-be graduating MFA candidates, were asked about our goals. At the time, one of my goals was to be a guest curator and be invited all over the world to curate exhibitions, galleries, community events, and maybe even a Biennale – or two. Lofty goals at the time, and in some cases seemed impossible.

I had very little curatorial experience under my belt, and I was worried that my visual arts focus on martial arts and communities would not be the springboard into curation that I wanted and needed to move forward.

One of my professors told me a story about how he gained his curatorial experience by curating a 10″ x 10″ x 6″ box. He gave it a gallery title and worked with artists from all over the world to curate tiny travel shows in this box. He basically gave me permission to create my own opportunity and unapologetically build experiences to achieve my goals. Thus, The Kitchen Sink Project was not only envisioned, but created in the fall of 2019.


What’s next for The Kitchen Sink Project?

This project has been an integral part of coping and working through the pandemic. So far, we have a full year scheduled out with amazing artists from all over the world and a large, diverse exploration of media and content. We have worked with a painter from Pakistan, a video collage artist from Macedonia, a performance video artist from Detroit, and we have many more artists scheduled. The learning curve has been pretty steep in determining how to give space and agency to artists and maintain an identity and goal that is also true to The Kitchen Sink Project.

We are just completing our first full year with the program and interested in exploring virtual residencies, artist collaborations, and possibly even satellite locations for international Kitchen Sink galleries.