Artist of the Month - Kaffee Kang
"Red hair and green eyes, Gen-X or Baby Boomer, cool or nerdy - these are all identifiers that describe who we are and sometimes our place in a larger group. Some are more useful and accurate than others. Some we are born with and others are assigned to us. Some we are proud of and others we are eager to shed.
Much of my work explores issues related to identity, utilizing visual narrative.Through color and imagery, my paintings give voice to recurrent themes of alienation and belonging, such as gender roles, minority status, the immigrant mentality, the political divide, aging, and body image."
Essentially self taught and relatively new to painting, Kaffee brings a fresh eye and a unique style that defies classification. She mostly paints from observation, with a significant contribution from the imagination. Spanning a wide range of subject matter, her work is colorful and quirky. Her paintings are held in private collections and have been selected, through jury processes, to be exhibited at the Maryland Federation of Art, the Concord Center for Visual Arts, the Fitchburg Art Museum, and the Gallery Twist.
You can see some of Kaffee's wonderful artwork at the Goodnow library in Sudbury during the month of April.
What is Art for you?
Art is my dream. Since I was a schoolgirl, I have always wanted to be an artist. But practical pursuits, like making a living, took precedence. Since retiring from a fulfilling career, I am finally living my dream. As a visual thinker and learner, art challenges and focuses my mind like nothing else.
A Thousand Words
What are you currently working on?
Currently, I am working on a series of paintings about the interfaces between humans and nature.
What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
I came to this country when I was 6 1/2 years old, without knowing any English. Although I quickly assimilated into the American culture, a part of me will forever feel a bit different, like I do not quite belong. I grew up with no extended family, no sense of my family's history, and only a limited understanding of my culture of origin. This background has significantly contributed to my interest in identity, a concept that recurs in my paintings. As a rootless immigrant, with minimal ties to tradition and history, I prefer experimenting with painting techniques rather than learning from those that have come before me.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Current social issues.
What is your creative process?
Another major influence on my artwork is my 40 years of experience, as a practicing architect. I make paintings very similarly to the way I used to design buildings. I start out with a concept or idea. Then, I make decisions about subject matter, composition, color, etc. to support that concept. These decisions are not arbitrary, although they are sometimes intuitive. I keep a steady eye on the "big picture", while delighting in the details. A successful painting or building should stand on its own. The artist or architect need not be there to explain it. Architecture has helped me look at my art more objectively and less possessively. Because I do not see a painting as a reflection of my self worth, I welcome critique, so that I can continue to learn.
Did your style change over the years? In which way?
I have only been painting "seriously" and continuously for about 3 years. I continue to develop my technique and improve my skills. I have not tried to develop a style. I just paint and, serendipitously, the results do seem to exhibit a visual consistency. I have no idea how it might change in the future.
The Art of Painting
What is the most challenging part about creating your artworks?
Thinking up new concepts and creating the right visual images to support those concepts.