Kirsten Rian, MA, MFA, is a mid-career multidisciplinary artist and her work includes public art installations, painting, LED lights and video projection mapping and writing. She also works as a writer and photography curator. She has exhibited internationally, and has curated or managed more than 375 photography exhibitions, and picture edited or written for over 80 books and catalogs.
All of her work in any medium is an exploration of interconnectedness–with each other, with the land and environment, with memory, with history. Main and recurring themes reflect visual implications of events she and her children have lived through and include grief, chronic illness, genetics, trauma, joy, and the allegiance between body and landscape. Her work explores the space between acknowledging loss and places of social or physical or environmental damage in order to identify the starting places for healing; and the joy, gratitude, and light that come from transitioning to a place of growth and hope once that process begins. Her multimedia paintings are almost always comprised of multiples as a call and response within each piece, and created on either wood panels or archival paper, utilizing acrylic, watercolor, charcoal, conte, chalk pastel, and/or graphite.
She has led storytelling and painting workshops both domestically, as well as internationally in locations like post-war Sierra Leone and refugee relocation centers in Finland, and with human trafficking survivors, using creative mediums as a tool for literacy and peacebuilding, and locally is a volunteer language facilitator for non-native speakers. Her work explores how storytelling and visual art often allows the hardest and most necessary aspects of human history and experience to be remembered, and in fact, honored.
In her distant past, her life as a musician was front and central, she co-owned an independent record label, made 8 records, and garnered airplay on radio stations across the country. She is an essayist and poet, and the author of three books. Her anthology of Sierra Leonean poets and their accounts of the civil war, Kalashnikov in the Sun, was at one point in every classroom in Sierra Leone. Life Expectancy was released in 2018 by Redbat Books as part of their Pacific Northwest Writers Series. Lewis & Clark College selected her poetry to publish in a limited-edition book. She was the author of the weekly photography column “The Alphabet of Light” for Daylight Magazine, was the poetry editor at The Oregonian newspaper, and is the recipient of numerous artist fellowships and grants.
LINKs to a selection of special projects, digital stories, & writings