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

Hi Kira, let’s start by talking about what inspires you?
Lately I’ve been inspired by: Sunsets. Roses. Shadows. Wavey lines. Red and its iterations. Blue and its iterations. Landscapes as emotional entities. Historic kisses. Shared experience. Time beyond self. Repetition.   

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
This year has simultaneously been more isolated and socially connected in my studio. Paintings that previously examined desire, relationship dynamics, movement, interior fantasy and intimacy now turned toward less known and outward facing subjects. I drew much more to take in current events: the BLM protests, portraits of the pandemic, RBG and John Lewis’s passings, caricatures of the election, forrest fires. Also whatever thoughts came tumbling out from rabbit hole riffs on the internet, gardens I wished to travel to, revolutions not seen, an imaginary love affair between Angela Davis and Roland Barthes This alongside self-portraits, which in many ways remove me as the first empathetic viewer of work, and acknowledge another concurrent viewer or reflection.

 In teaching via zoom, including a course focused on social graphics, there’s been a new emphasis on commonality or shared impact. It’s like wow, yes we really are all going through this together… often alone, but together. What can we do to acknowledge that?

I recently re-read an essay that traces the impulse for a Romantic aesthetic alongside shared values of the French Revolution. The desire for individuality and deeply personal perspective is reconciled with a historic, totemic common good/need/experience.  I love to consider what’s possible in that overlap now; to imagine what an emotional value system can still bring us. Can a romantic perspective model an alternative relationship to nature or offer the possibility of another political system?  This year has brought renewed hope that desires for the self and society touch more frequently than we give them credit for.  That pleasure, wonder, love, security aren’t selfish, but shared wants and experiences.  Not just that the personal is political, but that in being more personal we further build the systems we participate in.  That emotional labor is real and worthwhile work.   

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. Who do you recommend to follow?
A few groups that have inspired me this year: Pepperdine Studio Arts, Center for Political Graphics, La Puerta Negra Runs & Artist-Run, Los Angeles Community Fridges

Website: www.kiramaria.com
Instagram: @avalito

Image Credits
Shanna Waddell

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