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L'Art Pour L'Art: Shakti Kroopkin Paints Liberation

October 7, 2009, 12:00 am
By Interns
by Tiana Finney, SFR Intern

At right: Shakti Kroopkin, "Hillside Row"

Art and Crêpes:
Shakti Kroopkin's live painting performance at Le Flip


6-8 pm
Saturday, Oct. 10


Free

Le Flip
1414 Second St.

865-806-2728

Shakti Kroopkin's abstract oil paintings are assertions of visual liberation.  Lines sway and curve, squares linger and drift, circles pulse and swell. On an essentially still, 2-D canvas, creating movement is no small feat. Kroopkin's art comes from an intuitive, almost instinctual depth. Her relationship to unrehearsed process and unrestrained action yields paintings that are fluid and organic. Each of Kroopkin's pieces is like a new fantasy to escape in, an alternate world of pure shape and color, free of the constraints of logic, gravity and reality. The titles of her work touch on vast thematic material: spirits, oases, urban environments, hillsides, marshes, lily ponds, and conceptual ideas and emotions, like faith, joy and wisdom.

Kroopkin was born in Chicago and later earned an art education certification and BFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. After some “nomadic” wandering, she settled in Santa Fe. Today, she is an art teacher at Sweeney Elementary and at the Santa Fe Children's Museum.

On Saturday, Kroopkin appears at local crêperie Le Flip for a family-friendly live painting performance. An art table provides attendees the opportunity to engage in art of their own, while crêpes are the perfect nourishment to round out a hard evening of art-making. Kroopkin's artistic works, including drawings, magnets and other small items will be for sale.

In a Q&A session Kroopkin spoke, among other things, about the serendipitous day that painting became part of her life and her stylistic evolution from a landscape painter to an abstract painter.

SFR: What is the connection between crêpes and painting? Are food and art related in some way?
SK: [Laughs] No, not for the show. We just call it Art and Crêpes, so people would come to make art and eat crêpes.

I thought there might be a symbolic link...
Crêpes are a creation just like art is and they put a lot of different things together to make crêpes, so in that way, crêpes are similar. They're creative.

You mention the importance of process on your website. Why is process so important in art?
It's in the process that we express ourselves. It's not in the final touches, making something perfect, or making it a finished product. You have your process and you let yourself go and be free and express yourself. Then, you problem solve after that. My work is definitely about process and expressing my feelings and my mood of the day. Wherever my head is comes out in what I do. I don't plan beforehand; I don't work on sketches or anything like that. It's really spontaneous art. That's why, at this event, I'll be doing live painting. Josh, the chef at Le Flip, and I will be spontaneously creating together. His is less spontaneous, but there's always some spontaneity [in cooking]. I'll also have an art making table set up. My friend Lynette Jordan will be DJing at the event because I always paint to music.

At left: Shakti Kroopkin, "Oasis"

What inspires you to create art?
My non-stop imagination. I'm constantly seeing things in my mind. My inspiration comes from cityscapes, nature, my own imaginative combinations of the two and otherworldliness. My work is influenced by living in the city, traveling in Southeast Asia and being in nature. I always go back and forth between being a city girl and a nature girl. That's a big part of my expression. My work is really playful.



What is it about abstraction that helps you express what you want to express?
I'm really interested in the motion of line and color. I don't like having to have something look like something. I'm not interested in “reality,” necessarily. Abstraction gives me the freedom to find symbolism in movement, shape, color and line. All those details come together to create a place I can go off into and that my viewers can go into. It's hard to explain what pulled me toward abstraction in terms of creation, but I've always been most interested in shape, color and movement in my art since I was really little. I just found my mode. But sometimes figures or landscapes come out that people can recognize. That's always interesting for me because I don't start with a purpose in mind. That's what I like about abstraction: it allows you freedom.

How did you first become interested in visual arts?
I went to an art workshop with my mom because the babysitter didn't show up. I was about seven and my mom was going to a women's group art workshop. Everyone had to create an oil painting. I painted one of the best landscape paintings in the class and it was better than my mom's, even though I was only seven. So she got me into after-school art classes right away. My parents set up a studio for me in our basement, so I was working in a little furnace room with oil paints. We didn't realize back then about the fume issue, which is probably why I'm kind of silly now. [Laughs] I continued to make art, and in college, I went into art therapy and then decided I wanted to focus on my art and do art education. I transferred from the University of Wisconsin to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. It was there that my work moved away from landscape to abstraction. One of my teachers pointed out a cityscape that I was doing and said, ‘What if you take just this two-inch by two-inch section and make that a complete painting?' That just blew my mind. I was like, ‘what? Oh my god! That would be so fun!' Then I never went back. That one comment totally changed my work.

Is this the first live painting event you've done?
This is the first one. The idea came to me when I was in Chicago hanging out with spoken word artists and we worked together. They would be doing spoken word and I would be making art at the same time. We always talked about performing together but it never came to fruition. Then, I moved out here. I saw The Humble Art Collective doing live painting at Corazón one night. I thought, ‘I should be doing this!' I figured, instead of having a boring art opening, I could make it a little more fun and interesting because the space is fun and the owners are fun and funky.

At right: Shakti Kroopkin, "Cloud Prism"

Do you have children that are carrying on your artistic tradition?
I have one son, not even two years old yet, and he has been painting quite a bit. Whenever he sees something I've done, he always looks at it and says ‘Wow.' Now, whenever he wants to draw or paint, he says ‘wow.' It's become the word for painting and drawing.

Art and Crêpes:
Shakti Kroopkin's live painting performance at Le Flip


6-8 pm
Saturday, Oct. 10


Free

Le Flip
1414 Second St.
865-806-2728

 

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