Today we’d like to introduce you to Linda Kunik.
Linda, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I became an artist late in life—after teaching high school Spanish in the suburbs of Chicago, moving out to Los Angeles to help my husband start a business and being a housewife and mother for many years. My first foray into art was as an art docent at my children’s school and then as a docent at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for seven years. But one day, after seeing what talent my two daughters had with drawing and painting, I decided to give drawing a try. Perhaps they got the artistic gene from me? At that time, I never imagined how my life would become filled with the creativity, artwork and art making it includes today. Not to mention all the amazing experiences and people I have met because of it.
After several years of being a watercolorist and landscape painter, I decided I wanted to work more conceptually, so I went back to college and got a BFA from Otis College of Art and Design. I began to ask questions regarding issues that combined formalism, globalization and those concerning the environment. These queries led to using both abstraction and representation in an attempt to present these issues, with the hopes of beginning a dialogue that would bring an awareness of the earth’s profound beauty, as well as a realization of how truly fragile the land is.
To entice the viewer to look more closely, I began filling the canvas with images of lush, sensual colors. These paintings referenced environmental problems: deforestation, water pollution and global warming. However, it was the melting of glaciers that drew me deeper into these environmental issues, issues that ultimately reflect the human condition.
Encountering a large piece of broken glass in an alley one day, I immediately conjured glaciers breaking apart and melting – landscapes under transformation. However, the broken glass, which then created the compositions for my paintings, was also a symbol of how life evolves, the intersection of what is planned and what happens accidentally in the human experience—the nature of causality. Other explorations of the parallels between the environment and humanity led to a multi-year gardening project, one that not only brought artists together but also established a community within a community. This project led me to use my photographic skills.
My work now is the culmination of ten years of artistic practice and is actually two bodies of work. I am a painter first, but I always loved photography and since the beginning was trying to think of a way to combine painting and photography after first seeing the Argentinian artist, Fabian Marcaccio. It’s also interesting for me to examine my journey in terms of painting and photographic content and how my emotional and psychological state and feelings began creeping into my work. This current body, entitled “Disconnect” is about the disconnect I feel in the world and in my life.
Taking photographs of walls and natural objects from all over the world was the inspiration. From the walls of San Severino prison in Cuba to ancient walls holding up the gigantic head statues on Easter Island to the walls of an Italian medieval town and many places in between, I was fascinated by the abstract compositions that I saw close up.
These old walls with their layers and layers of rock, paint, and whatever else was there seemed like people, with layers and layers of experiences composing the whole person. They seemed a metaphor for the persona that we present to the outside world-the wall that we show to other people. Cutting out part of the photograph and painting that section accentuated the disconnect between the persona we present and the multiple selves we are underneath. At first glance, one sees a whole perfect image. Upon closer examination, the disconnect is obvious.
The second body of work, “A Fragile Strength,” takes photos of walls from all over the world and distorts them. This work explores the transience and deterioration in the world and in the human psyche through the medium of photography and an emulsion process that turns an orderly rectangular image into an amorphous shape with new meaning and message. This transformation contradicts their supposed strength and permanence with a fragility and evanescence as it relates to our world and the human condition.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Because I started my artistic career later in life, I have worked very hard to make up for lost time–over 100 exhibitions to my name since 2006, I continue to apply to as many exhibition opportunities as I can. Networking is also part of my job as is keeping my website up to date.
What am I most proud of? What sets me apart from others?
What sets me apart is threefold. The first project, which was quite unique was Plant It Forward-the starving artist project. After several years of work that referenced environmental problems, I decided I wanted to work proactively instead of making paintings about environmental problems. Plant It Forward was born, a four-year, multidimensional, interdisciplinary project that invited artists to examine sustainable agriculture and the barter system, while examining the politics and cultural aspects of food.
Five large gardens were created around the house to produce vegetables and fruit. The garden soon took on a life of its own as it became a canvas for an ever-changing composition that evolved weekly. The art became the artists working in the garden, building community and reconnecting with the earth. They learned about planting, composting, cultivating and watering, then going home with a bag of organic produce they harvested themselves.
The second project I am quite proud of is Salon 2.0, formerly O Salon. I have been hosting Salon 2.0 in my art studio in Beverly Hills for over 12 years. It started out as a critique group after graduating from Otis and developed into a Salon of art presentations and discussion in a welcoming and sophisticated environment with wine and food. We are now 404 members strong. Every two months, on a Friday night, a visual artist and a poet or musician is invited to present their work (some actual work and then a video or slide presentation of older work) to an audience of 35 – 50 people. The audience is comprised of other artists, art critics, gallerists, collectors, poets, musicians, video artists.
And lastly is my ability and good fortune to come up with several unique ideas in art making, most currently, combining photography and painting in a way that no one seems to have ever seen before. All that hard work has made my dreams of exhibiting internationally and at Art Basel a reality.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
One of my favorite memories is sitting on the couch, copying the faces of the front page of a novel I was reading. Also, running in the fields and playing in the forest preserve with my friends and cousins.
- “A Disconnect” (7.5″ x 10″ $425.) (22.5″ x 30″ $1700. – $1800.) (45″ x 60″ $8000.)
- “A Fragile Strength” All Framed. (16″ x 23″ $1800.) (18″ x 24.5″ $2200.) (31″ x 42″ $3600.) (28″ x 39″ $3600.)
- Website: www.lindakunik.com
- Phone: 310-429-9011
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: Salon 2.0 & lindakunik
- Facebook: Linda Kunik/ Salon 2.0