by Jeff Sykes

Kim Thore’s recent frenetic creativity was actually born from a flood of despair. The veteran artist lost three-fourths of her life’s work when a frozen sprinkler system in a neighbor’s condominium flooded her building earlier this year.

Her portfolio, in addition to mixedmedia art displayed throughout Thore’s home, was destroyed.

“I decided I was not going to do art ever again,” Thore said. “To me that was the final straw. I felt like I couldn’t recreate it, that it was gone.”

Some might have their creative urges swept away by the tide of such a devastating loss. But not Thore. She found a rebirth of freedom once she was able to regain her footing.

The process began when she watched her partner, Jon Epstein, at work with his own digital art. Watching his work process, and the reaction people had to his art, kicked off a five-month wave during which Thore has created more than 70 works of art in a fresh medium.

The result is “Lips Like Sugar“, an exhibit of fascinating prints dedicated to glamour, fashion and exploring the concept of beauty. The exhibit opens at 7 p.m. on Friday in the upstairs space of Inter_Section Gallery, located at 629 N. Trade St. in Winston-Salem.

“I’ve always been fascinated with the beauty industry, cultural norms and the way in which society is ‘taught to look,'” Thore said. “I began exploring images of starlets from the 1920’s, 30’s and beauty images from today and found that changing and morphing these images, sometimes placing them in different locales told a different story, maybe a more interesting and real one.”

Drawing from her experience in the marketing field, where she developed skills with digital imaging software like Photoshop and Illustrator, Thore used layers and tools to augment the original images.

The result can by dizzying at times, as in the title piece featuring a close up of a woman applying lipstick infused with the image of an abandoned car in a rural setting. The striking pink and red lipstick grabs the viewer’s attention, while the woman’ open mouth invites one in to the background scene, colored as in a post-apocalyptic music video from the mid-1980s, with nuclear green, orange and brown colors that bathe the rustic landscape. A gaping hole in the car’s windshield invites the viewer deeper into a third layer of perception.

Images of models and beauty icons from across the past century anchor the exhibit. Thore mixes images of today’s ideal of beauty with starlets from the past. Using digital imaging tools Thore said that she morphed images from 80 years ago into today’s glamour standards, with bigger lips and fuller faces.

“I’ve created images expressing that which is hoped or wished for but in fact is illusory or impossible to achieve,” Thore said. “I like to think that in addition to creating art I am providing a conduit for conversation about how our society perceives and projects beauty.”

Thore said she’s long been fascinated with the concept of beauty and the lengths people will go to achieve it. In her own art, Thore said she held herself to impossible standards, often not being satisfied with her work despite praise and the occasional award.

Overcoming that judgmental view of her own creative process opened up new ways to express herself. Thore said that learning to let go, to not hesitate or doubt herself, was one of the best things that’s ever happened to her.

“You start to see what can happen when you don’t over think it,” Thore said. “It really feels good to be happy about the work. I’ve never had that in all my years of training and instruction.” !


“Lips Like Sugar” runs June 6-30 in the upstairs space of Inter_Section Gallery, located at 629 N. Trade St. in Winston-Salem. Opening night will also feature art interpretation by noted musician Neill Clegg Jr. and other special appearances. Visit for more information.