Episode 22: Yvonne Kunz: Affirmations

I had such a great conversation with Yvonne Kunz! We covered so many topics from using art to teach English as a second language to what’s working well with online teaching to finding and creating opportunities as an artist. Her work is beautifully layered and meaningful. I loved hearing how teaching kids helped her move towards a more nuanced style, away from shouting and towards a conversation around the issues of the female experience, domesticity, fertility, and the many issues women face. We also connected over being from Montana and claiming that place as one of the many places that feel like home.

We kept coming back to affirmations to tell ourselves: it’s ok. I also loved what she said about being an artist and how she’s working to break down that patriarchal view of the artist as someone who sacrifices everything for their art and is solely an artist. Yvonne said that this view is unfair and unrealistic and leaves out so many people. Simply make time to make art and you are an Artist. Period. Whether you’re also a teacher or a parent or working in another field does not make you any less of an artist. Ok. Rant over. The way she has advocated for the arts in her community and pulled her own art career back after her hiatus (in which she got 2 master’s degrees) is inspiring. Let’s keep fighting for the arts in our schools, especially now where they’re so very needed yet so easily cut from budgets.

Yvonne Kunz is a working artist and educator working in drawing, painting, and encaustic. She is from “nowhere” or “everywhere”, depending how you look at it, after a nomadic childhood as a “military brat”, although now considers Montana and the Pacific Northwest home. Yvonne holds a B.A in Visual Art from the University of Washington, a M.A in TESOL from the University of Delaware, and a M.Ed from Montana State University. She has shown nationally in cities such as Seattle and Chicago and internationally in Tokyo. She is currently represented by Gallery 110 in Seattle. In companion with being an artist, Yvonne is a K-12 certificated art educator. She is married, has two sons, and lives in Olympia, WA.

Here are some excerpts from her statement:

My artistic practice consists of improvisational drawing and collage inspiring play and exploration. As my work is figurative, a weekly figure drawing practice deepens my observational and representational skills, while providing source materials for my paintings. My encaustic practice is a longer, slower process where I paint, scrape, and fuse layers upon layers of wax, pigment, and damar resin.

I bury images in layers so they are unpacked by viewers with long, slow viewings. Working in mixed media in my drawings and collages — stitching in paper, found text and images, researched primary sources — metaphors and narratives surface in time. I want the viewer to search through the layers, to create associations as images are revealed.

Over the past twenty years, my voice has been consistent, honest, courageous, and, sometimes shy. It is an exploration of layers of my being: sexuality, motherhood, my personal belief system, “home”. My art oscillates between realistic figurative imagery to symbolism of personal identity: aprons, IUDs, ladders, teeth, wishbones, and the Hail Mary. My art is an attempt to connect with a personal community that is fractured, with a sense of place that feels fleeting, and a family history which is slipping away.


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