A WORD FROM THE ARTIST
While exploring verdant rainforests, sweltering swamps, rugged coastlines, and high deserts, I collect my visual sources to result in artwork that is anchored in natural forms, either explicitly in landscape or subtly in abstraction and pattern. Subtle similarities of growth and decay in cycles of nature are often the focus. Image sources include plant-life, insects and rocks. Imagery shifts from delicate and intricate to aggressive and invasive.
Found objects or ephemera are starting points for much of my work in this exhibit: deteriorating or jumbled matter, mold and rust formations, meandering shadows, broken electronics and wiring. When possible, found objects are collected and brought back to the studio, photographed or sketched on-site. Form and surface textures are examined and alternately interpreted in both descriptive rendering, extreme simplification and abstraction. Layers of transparency in drawing and painting allow for multiple views of observation to merge into one work.
My work is a mix of realism, design, illustration and pattern and the medium changes from project to project to include encaustic painting, drawing, murals, photography, video and installation. Having been raised in the Sawiyano territory of Papua New Guinea, Sepik style patterning and carved line-work influences my work. Training in graphic design persuades me of the power of bold and simple shapes. And, not least of all, a background in academic painting convinces me to sometimes build up tone and color. I do not deem one way of working more important than another. The project itself deems which method, style, or media will be utilized best. For example, murals that are commissions are treated like a design project and content is usually dictated by the client so their imagery ranges dramatically from realism to flat graphic typography.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Bethany “Betni” Kalk is an artist, designer, and professor of art and design. She was born in Canada and at age three her missionary parents moved the family to Papua New Guinea (PNG) where they lived for 10 years. She lived in the United States for high school, college and graduate school where she studied graphic design, painting, and drawing. When not teaching, she travels back to New Guinea, explores the natural landscapes of other countries, and visits different regions of the U.S. to and from artist residencies. She has exhibited in numerous locations including Lexington, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New York, Omaha and San Francisco. She has received numerous grants and residencies around the U.S. including Sitka Center, San Juan National Forest, the Anderson Center and the Pine Needles Program through the Science Museum of Minnesota. For information and images, visit b-e-t-n-i.com