It is my distinguished honor and pleasure to introduce to you an interview with a very talented and creative minded artist Aunia Kahn. Aunia has received mention and honors from a number of very reputable art sources such as REFUSED Magazine, Celebrity Artist Michael Bell Radio Show, Juxtapoz On-line, and many more. Aunia also has the pleasure and honor of being Excommunicate’s first photographer. So without further delay I present you the work of Aunia Kahn.
JackDirt: Can you give us a little background information about yourself?
Aunia Kahn: I truly never really know what to say in this section of interviews. It feels like one of those times in childhood classrooms where the teachers made kids stand up and announce their name to the class and have them say something about themselves. “I am Aunia Kahn, and I play with crayons”. Seriously, I grew up in a very unstable home and art, music and writing were always a refuge for me. I never thought about using my art seriously in a choice, but when a time came in my life that art was pretty much all I had keeping me from going over the edge I found a deeper love, and appreciation for the power of art in the healing aspect, and then made it my career choice after my first exhibition. The work I had done was well received; it helped me to share and helped others too.
JD: Do you have any formal art training? If so did you find it beneficial?
AK: I am a self-taught artist with no real formal training. I have always just enjoyed creating what I wanted when I wanted, and having people tell me how I should do it, and dictate projects has always been a turn-off to me. I have enough of my own ideas and projects to keep me busy, some I constantly work on to fill deadlines and some that no one may ever see. I don’t think there is anything wrong with formal training, some people need it or enjoy the process, for me, I really never have. I would prefer to converse with other artists, and creative types and discuss ideas and learn that way.
JD: Can you describe your artistic process?
AK: Sometimes I just go with an idea in my head, other times I will sketch ideas on paper and work from there. I have a random sketchbook I keep with me, so when I get ideas I can jot them down. I don’t have a consistent process each time I work, although a constant in my studio is food and music. I am always eating something.
JD: What media exactly are in your mixed media??
AK: My mixed mediums are photography, digital painting and collage all wrapped into one little tiny package. The art is kind of a hybrid form of art, which takes a bunch of disciplines adds them together, and finalizing them into one finished piece on the computer.
JD: Many of your portraits are reflective of yourself, what are your influences to use yourself as part of the artistic message?
AK: I have never been able to work effectively with models on my own personal projects. Right now my works are still very personal, raw and just me. It’s the way I feel most comfortable exploring the depths of emotions, environment, and myself due to staying tight knit and working with myself on all levels. I do commission works, collaborative works, and artwork for causes, which takes me outside that box to keep things from getting stale.
JD: You have quite an array of symbolism in your portraits, can you explain a bit about what the symbolism of some of these elements are; such as the hummingbirds, needles etc.?
AK: Some of my recent works have medical aspects to them due to a personal situation that was health related which tuned out very favorable, and so much sickness with the people I love and cherish. Also, feeling a bit out of control and powerless beyond just being supportive to those I feel I should be able to do more for results in some disheartening emotions. I think therapeutically working those emotions out gives me the ability to be open, supportive and be there for them to the best of my ability.
I see the humming birds as little perfect life givers, or takers if you will, but that depends on my mood. I tend to always have living symbols in my work it seems to come as a balance. There is a Mojave legend which tells of a primordial time when people lived in an underground world of darkness. They send a hummingbird up to look for light. I have always found we need that balance, and sometimes we need a little help.
JD: Many of your pieces seem to be a juxtapose of the holy and the distressed. Can you explain the context of this duality in a piece like Context of the World, or Salutary Absorption?
AK: I am fascinated by religion/spirituality (organized and not), death, how people enjoy or dislike distress and peace. In some way they are all polar opposites, but still somehow melding perfectly. Some people don’t enjoy peace, and others loathe distress. You can either be at peace during death, dying from personal distress, or be sickened with peace. Your religion/spirituality could be the greatest cause of peace or personal distress. They all seem very absolute, juxtaposed and/or supportive to one another.
JD: Some of your other pieces are political in context and herald back to an age of the World Wars propaganda. With Eliminate the Remedy and American Political what kind of message are you trying to convey?
Eliminate the Remedy is a very interesting piece to explain. I wasn’t trying to convey anything in particular; I was just trying to find a way to express how I was feeling at the time and share a bit of empathy. Not many people know that a very dear person to me has MS, and the syringe in my hand is one that was used to push a 1″ needle into the thigh to administer the medicine to help prevent an attack. One of our other friends, and best friend is a pilot, so hence the planes. The style comes from one not of today, but a different time and the old Red Cross uniform comes from my personal love of history and my tribute to both of them. American Political was my answer to all the ways we feel stuck in a society where people feel that they can’t change and are blindfolded to what is really going on when it comes to politics, and gender roles.
JD: Is there a particular piece you find yourself drawn to?
AK: That depends on the day. Sometimes I am really fond of a piece and other days it doesn’t faze me. The personal connections with each of my works changes like the weather.
JD: One of the things I am quite intrigued by is that you will be releasing your own tarot card set the Silver Era Tarot. I can safely say this must have been a bit of a daunting project. What inspired you to create your own tarot set?
*AK:*I was introduced to tarot in 2004 and wanted to learn to read the cards for personal use. When looking into reading tarot cards there was so much symbolism and ancient history that I was unaware of, I was immediately drawn to them. In this I thought creating my own deck would be a perfect way to learn each card since there is 78 of them to learn with pretty intense meanings and imagery to learn like knowing the reverse laying of a card has a different meaning when pulled out of he deck upright for example. I figured I would only do the major arcana (22 cards), but once I started I fell in love with the project, and getting to know the ancient art of tarot. Don’t get me wrong after about 50, I was asking myself “why” over and over again, but once I start something I am one to finish and not give up. It was years of work, but it has paid off, it’s being published by Schiffer
JD: What are your beliefs and influences with the tarot or other esoteric medium? Are there any experiences you would like to share with us??
AK: I was unsure of tarot cards as a whole since I have not been one to want to mess with the way the world’s energy works. I was misguided in the fact of how tarot works and looked at them as very taboo and bad, which they are quite the opposite. To break it down here would be a bit hard, but if people (like I was) are turned off by the taboo nature of such things they should research them, and find that they really are absolutely amazing. Moreover since I read them for myself and not typically for others I find that I am able to get answer and help to really simple questions or with making large decisions when I feel confused. I have always been one to see things, and be a bit more perceptive then others. Am I clairvoyant? Not at all, I just think I am more sensitive and aware. In this the cards work for me well, because I’m open. I think when we are open, we can learn so much. Also now there are a lot of other cards, oracle cards, angel cards, Christian cards, and much more so there is something that might be just right to use for anyone. They each share a bit of guidance within the description; each card has so much meaning that for one person it could mean something and for another something completely opposite. Even just reading the meanings of cards when they don’t even apply to you is educational, there is a bit of knowledge and bits of good advice with them. For example the “Temperance” is about balance in your life, it does go much deeper but this gives you an idea. I think overall I just hope that some of these ancient ways that we have used to connect with the divine (whatever your personal divine, or divineness is) that people will start to reconnect with and not find so taboo. To crash on a myth, the “Death” card is unlike the popular belief that it will tell you when you are going to die, or if you will die since there is not correlation usually with physical death and the “Death” card. Publishing and available in Spring 2010.
JD: Have you received any feedback as to your interpretation of the tarot?
AK: I have found that the feedback has been very delightful and supportive of the take I have on the cards. I have been told they are very true to the roots of traditional symbolism and have a very calming feel to them. They are black and white with a hint of a single color per card, which has never been done before, and people seem to enjoy the antique and classic feel of the deck design. I am excited to see once Schiffer Publishing gets the deck out to the masses what people will have to say once they are in hands and in use.
JD: Do you have any upcoming shows, products, or books you’d like to promote??
*AK:*Some of my shows, and I have more right now that are being booked:
2009.07.25, Arf Nouveau [Stray Rescue Fundraiser], St. Louis, MO
2009.07.07, 504 Style Rock Art Circus, Big Top 3 ring Circus Art Gallery, New Orleans, LA
2009.07.08, Southern Illinois Artist Competition, Mitchell Museum, Mt. Vernon, IL
Sep 2009, Solo Exhibit “Our Immaculate Fall”, Red Ear, Alto Pass, IL
2009.11.06 Solo Exhibit “Our Intimate Perception”, Concrete Ocean Gallery, St. Louis, MO?Nov 2009, All-Female Live Art/Music Event, Los Angeles, CA
Dec 2009, Politi-Pop, Altered Esthetics, Minneapolis, MN
Feb 2010, I Hate Lucy, Chicago, IL
+ I have a bunch of reasonably priced goodies in my store: auniakahn.bigcartel.com
+ Tarot Card Deck “Silver Era Tarot” will be out Spring 2010, preorders start in Dec 2009
+ Book “Obvious Remote Chaos” should be published right after the deck in 2010
I just want to thank Aunia Kahn for taking the time out for the interview, for more information and work from Aunia check her out at the below sites.