Interview: Kaitlin Kraemer
Luca Curci talks with Kaitlin Kraemer, one of the winners of ARTIST OF THE MONTH – FEBRUARY 2021.
Kaitlin Kraemer (b.1985) grew up in greater Boston, MA, USA. She earned her BA in Anthropology and Studio Fine Arts from Union College and received a graduate certificate in Oil Painting from Tufts University. She also completed a summer semester at The Marchutz School of Fine Arts in Aix-en-Provence, France. Prior to relocating to France in 2018 to focus on her art career, Kaitlin worked in fundraising and development at Harvard University, and in London at The Courtauld Institute of Art and University of the Arts London. She also has experience working in sales and curation for a leading contemporary art gallery in New England. Over the years, Kaitlin’s artwork has evolved into an abstract exploration of nature vs. nurture, exploring the impact one’s surroundings has on one’s emotional state and physical well-being. Using vivid colors and chaotic brushstrokes, her paintings and metalwork render the many diverse and contradicting elements that exist in our environment, as well as in ourselves: creation and destruction; tranquility and turmoil; strength and fragility; devotion and neglect – revealing our many beautiful complexities, and challenging viewers to quite literally ‘think outside the box’. Kaitlin is currently based in Nice, France, exhibiting her work locally and internationally.
Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Kaitlin Kraemer – Art a visual articulation of a creator’s subconscious; a tangible expression of one’s soul. Personally speaking, art is the driving force and paramount purpose of my life. I think we all strive to be impeccable with our word, to be understood by others. This can be difficult to achieve, for a myriad of reasons. Through painting, I feel I am able to express what I’m thinking and feeling more completely than via any amount of speaking or writing. The pieces I create are authentic projections of my innermost thoughts and feelings – therefore, art is the purest, most vulnerable form of self- expression.
LC – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
KK – I have been painting regularly for 15 years now, but didn’t become a full-time artist until 2017. I’m originally from Boston, MA, USA, but have been living abroad for most of my adult life. Prior to focusing wholly on my creative career, I worked in fundraising and development in higher education. I wouldn’t change anything about my years behind a desk; I learned so much, was surrounded by interesting and inspiring coworkers, and gained a lot of invaluable experience. Despite having a seemingly “perfect” life – a good job, a husband, a nice apartment – I was deeply unhappy. I felt stuck, unfulfilled, unmotivated. It was a very dark time for me, but also, one that became a catalyst for some terrifying, necessary changes. I’m a big believer in the whole “actions speak louder than words” thing. So, I took action. Within six months, I changed everything about my life: I gave notice at work, I filed for divorce, I left London where I had been living for 4 years and moved back into my parents’ house in the US, and enrolled on a year-long rigorous graduate arts program. I look back at that time now and it both shocks and thrills me – I kind of can’t believe I had the courage to do it, but am incredibly grateful that I followed my instinct and made it happen.
This whole experience was transformative: for me, and for my art. It’s not been an easy journey, but the fact that I’ve done it – that I wake up every morning passionate about and proud of what I do – is definitely my greatest achievement to date. My goal as an artist is to continue: to paint, to learn, to succeed, to fail, to grow, to follow my heart, and to create and to exhibit as much as possible. I want to inspire others with my art, and my story – to show people that almost anything is possible if you want it badly enough. That through chaos, there is beauty.
LC – Which is the role the artist plays in the society? And contemporary art?
KK – To offer a fresh, authentic point of view. A visual dialogue that enables a personal story to be regarded and interpreted by the public. Contemporary art is unique because it evokes emotion over rationality; the artist’s role is to nurture these emotions, and foster the opportunity for transcendence – to offer up their wisdom through creativity.
LC – How would you describe your style?
KK – Abstract expressionism, rooted in impressionism. I’m quite a prolific painter and my style has evolved considerably since I began painting; I’ve worked very hard to achieve a truly authentic style, one which represents my emotions and inner truth as best as I’m able.
LC – Did your style change over the years? In which way?
KK – It has indeed. My evolution (personally and professionally) has been an integral part of my artistic journey; I’ve worked diligently to hone my practice and style. For years, I was enamored with impressionism and post-impressionism – the result of a summer I spent in Aix-en-Provence. The opportunity to study in Aix was at the recommendation of my undergraduate arts professor and mentor, Walter Hatke. He thought I’d be an ideal candidate for this immersive painting program, and strongly encouraged me to apply to the summer semester course at The Marchutz School of Fine Arts. The experience honed my French language skills and really legitimized my own ability to see myself as an artist. I fell in love with painting that summer, as well as with the South of France – which influenced my permanent move back to France in early 2018. The above experience, combined with my graduate studies in contemporary art at Tufts University in 2016-17, has encouraged a truly authentic, hybrid style, one could say. I’m very proud of the way I’ve maintained a solid work ethic and have always remained open to – and encouraged – constructive criticism. Both have fueled my practice and journey, as an artist, and a human being.
LC – How do you feel when you see your work completed?
KK – Simply put – I know a piece is completed when nothing about it frustrates me anymore. When my eye can roam freely and happily about the surface, without pausing for too long on one spot. When I see the composition as a whole, rather than as individual parts. When it “flows”. And that makes me feel quite happy indeed.