We had the good fortune of connecting with Kara Maria and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Kara, what are you inspired by?
In my current body of work, I paint carefully rendered miniature portraits of endangered animals into larger compositions to raise questions about Earth’s biodiversity crisis and the place of wildlife within increasingly unstable habitats. Swirling and exploding shapes, bright colors, representational elements, and unlikely spatial relationships in the greater painting illustrate how our progressively chaotic environment displaces fauna and the systems that support it.

Elizabeth Kolbert’s 2014 book The Sixth Extinction, in which she asserts that we are now witnessing the largest mass extinction since the annihilation of the dinosaurs about sixty-six million years ago, inspired this work. Alongside images of globally endangered species, I focus on those from the US and especially those from California.

The impact of species loss on human survival is a deep concern that informs the ideas behind my artwork. Wild animals are at tremendous risk from poaching, farming and agricultural projects, urbanization, and other operations that encroach on natural spaces, as well as rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, higher temperatures, and multiplying disasters such as fires, hurricanes, and floods. The consequences jeopardize our collective future. Humans are not independent of the natural world’s ecosystems. I urge people to contemplate what we risk losing.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My current body of artwork combines abstraction with a focus on elements of realism – specifically endangered species – in paintings, works on paper, and prints.

I received my BA and MFA from the University of California, Berkeley (having moved to California from the East Coast at the age of 21). My artwork has been exhibited widely and is included in the permanent collections of the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA); the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento; the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (Achenbach Foundation); and the San Jose Museum of Art; among others.

I want to draw attention to the broad range of wildlife that is disappearing globally: from pollinators like rusty patched bumble bees, mollusks such as Hawaiian tree snails, marine mammals like vaquitas, to larger predators including Sumatran tigers, and many others. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, dozens of species are going extinct every day. “Because the rate of change in our biosphere is increasing, and because every species’ extinction potentially leads to the extinction of others bound to that species in a complex ecological web, numbers of extinctions are likely to snowball in the coming decades as ecosystems unravel.” They predict that 30 to 50 percent of all species will be heading toward extinction by mid-century. I want to acknowledge these animals in my paintings; and depict how environmental turmoil is disrupting the fundamental structures that support survival.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I live in San Francisco. The last time I visited Los Angeles was in 2017 – well before COVID changed everything. So, I do not feel very qualified to recommend venues in LA.

However, I can unreservedly recommend both the Getty Museum, and the Hammer Museum as among the very best art museums to visit in LA.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The most important person in my world is my husband – artist, Enrique Chagoya. He is a constant champion of me and my artwork and has been a most wonderful partner in life since we met in 1995.

I also credit my parents for endlessly encouraging me to do whatever I wanted to do with my life. They never told me not to try a new thing – no matter how far-fetched it seemed.

In addition, I would like to thank the three hard-working galleries that represent my artwork now: Anglim/Trimble in San Francisco, Gail Severn Gallery in Ketchum, ID, and Mark Moore Fine Art in Los Angeles.

Website: https://karamaria.com

Instagram: kara_maria_art

Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/kara-maria-529b0b8

Twitter: KaraMariaArt

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kara.maria.52

Other: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kara_Maria

Image Credits
John Wilson White Eugenio Castro

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