Kira Rudjen’s vibrant art is keeping the art spaces bright through the winter.
About a year ago, 34 year old artist Kira Rudjen and her husband Nick moved from the Big Apple to the Little Apple. While he has been busy in grad school at KSU, Kira has been camped out in her upstairs studio, vigorously drawing. A kaleidoscope of pastels fill two flat boxes, and multiple aprons hang nearby. “We’ve had a really nice time having a lot more space,’’ she says, and I believe it.
I asked Kira to talk about her work, and a deluge of beautiful conversation followed.
“I hope when people look at my work that they see the piece as a whole, but as they get closer, there’s a lot more of me in it,” she told me, and she has certainly made it easy for us to do just that. Kira’s work is vibrant and energetic, a true resemblance of the artist herself. If you get up close, you’ll notice that she has very erratic line work because, in her own words, she has “a very energetic mind.” When she’s working on a piece and gets caught in a moment of frustration she can’t move through, she needs to take a risk and use the erratic lines that used to get her in trouble at school. “I blitz across the page, articulating both the movement of my hand and also what it is that I’m seeing as swiftly as possible, and then I work around that. In my work you’ll either see slightly loud colors or slightly scribbly work, and it’s because that’s a map of me figuring it out.”
You have to get close enough to see these frenetic lines and to notice her bold color choices. She doesn’t have a favorite color, liking instead the relationship of more than one color together, though you might notice some consistent wildness in the show. “There’s something about an almost electric red that has been really speaking to me this year. I don’t see a lot of artworks with this color, so I’ve been very fond of it. And then there are some really powerful violets that I have used, especially in places where the trees or ground are more brown. Using this ridiculous purple has allowed me to play with depth and the lusciousness of things.”
She’s an incredibly fast and a prolific worker, having created all the work in this show in the last year. She enjoys working with a medium that allows her to move quickly, which is why she likes pastels. She studied studio arts at Minnesota State University Moorhead, focusing on oil painting at first. When her professor introduced her to pastels, she liked the way they layered and she didn’t have to wait for something to dry. The quickness of drawing with pastels won her over, and she figured out how to create a major to get a degree in them.
Kira is naturally left-handed, but works both-handed after teaching herself how to work with her right hand. The last few years she’s had a mysterious joint issue, but that didn’t stop her from creating. “I am now right-hand fluent, and all of these works were done both handed,” she tells me.
Her own tumultuous upbringing led her to find comfort and solace in the arts. “It’s not easy going through school thinking you’re an idiot,” she said, but she found a few teachers and subjects she felt accepted in. In college, her interest in art history for “how people wanted to make beautiful things even when life was a lot” and anthropology for “how people and societies are the way they are” made her want to put how she felt on paper. Paper lets her punctuate a moment in time, and putting a moment or memory down on paper is important to her. “Some of my favorite works are from the impressionist movement and their lineage. I think that there was something so beautiful about people responding to economic disparities by insisting on making work even though they knew no one would buy it. And I think that’s one of the most human things.”
IN HER WORDS
Some random facts about Kira, by Kira.
My husband and I are very into making food. In our wedding vows, I included that I would make breakfast five out of the seven days of the week because I’m the king of fried eggs. I’m the best fried egg maker that I’ve ever met.
I tend to explode creativity everywhere. My house is completely packed with things I find joy in, you can look anywhere in my house and there’s a little whimsy moment there. The things I choose to surround myself with are testaments to a life well loved.
One controversial thing I believe: There’s just no such thing as bad art, which yes does mean there’s no such thing as good art. It's all just taste. It’s like food - some people love olives. Some people don't. That doesn't mean one camp is inherently BAD, and it certainly doesn't mean one camp is good (looking at you, olive lovers).
Kira’s show will be up in 409 Art Space, Underground Collective Art Space, and Flight Crew Coffee from December 15 through January 26. Kira will give an artist talk on December 15 and January 26 at Flight Crew Coffee at 5:00pm.
If you are interested in how Kira came to have a show in downtown, I asked her about that, too. When she travels somewhere, or in this case, moved to Manhattan, she began following Instagram accounts for the region. She already followed Downtown Manhattan when Downtown MHK Art came to be, and she followed that account, as well. She liked a bunch of posts on that account, and then was reached out to about potentially showing her work. And here we are today. If you’re interested in having your work up next, you can contact us through Instagram or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.