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Life and Work with Anna Kaye

Today we’d like to introduce you to Anna Kaye.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Anna. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I grew up with the sound of seals and peacocks echoing through my neighborhood. After a fifteen minute walk, I’d peer through the fence at deer and elephants in their enclosures at the zoo. Lush trees arched over my head while the constant hum of the recently completed freeway, I-696, reverberated into the air. I grew up near Detroit, Michigan where vast urban decay was rampant from deindustrialization, crime, and economic decline. This enhanced my sense of empathy, compassion, love for diversity and justice, and reverence for the natural world.

While earning my undergraduate degree in fine art and geology, I explored geologic cycles and fell in love with the stratified layers of rock, embedded with ancient ecosystems and terrestrial landforms. This passion led me to live near some of the highest peaks in North America with vast forests adapted for fire. I became fixated with these sections of rampant decay in Colorado and even more fascinated with their regeneration.

With brittle, powdery tools and fragile paper surfaces, I draw scenes in which calamity has occurred, such as scorched forests, and when hope arises, as plants and animals re-inhabit the forest. With my drawings, I remember the forgotten and reveal the hidden. Perceiving life with heightened senses and empathy compels me to capture its inherent features, “imperfections,” and all. Every angle, tiny detail, value, or hue, are important parts of the whole.

I’m drawn toward moments when I feel small in a vast space. The space, like a forest or midnight sky, leaves me feeling euphoric. While my art explores the sublime, it also acts as a metaphor for our obligation to respect and care for our planet. This theme of calamity and survival continues in a recent series of exhibitions that I organized inspired by the 2017 women’s march.

After perceiving the vast space of thousands of protestors standing up for so many critical issues, I began organizing a series of exhibitions with contributions from over fifty local artists and poets. Colorado artists were invited to use or reject the color pink, inspired by the marches. Each of our Pink Progression exhibits contained a vast array of rosy hues, an ethereal pink glow, and moments when the color was minimal or absent. These exhibits, composed of all gender identities and expressions, build on the solidarity established during the women’s marches and address concepts of human rights and equality.

In 2020, we will have a series of exhibits that commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing and protecting women’s constitutional right to vote. This historic centennial offers us the opportunity to commemorate this milestone and recognize the consecutive dates in which all women attained the right to vote. In order to inspire social change, collaboration must occur. Working together allows us to share our knowledge and experience, while challenging each other to move outside of our comfort zone and discover a fusion of narratives.

Our first collaborative show will be at McNichols Civic Center, January 11 to April 5, 2020 in a shared exhibit with Birdseed Collective, Hardly Soft, and Odessa. The Arvada Center will feature one of the largest collaborative exhibits in Colorado, Pink Progression: Collaborations, with over 120 participating artists, June 4 – August 23, 2020. The exhibit includes a collaborative poetry book and a community project, inviting anyone to participate in completing a circle with their choice of design. The circle will be turned into a button for display during the exhibit; check out our website for further details.

Has it been a smooth road?
Life ebbs and flows with challenges and celebrations. One of the greatest challenges and feats is decoding the most essential parts of who you are and finding authentic ways to serve the larger community (human and nonhuman). In addition, as you journey through life, it’s important to periodically remind yourself how beautiful and rare it is to exist.

What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for, etc. What are you most proud of? What sets you apart from others?
I’m known for creating hyper-realistic charcoal drawings of forest burn zones. With each sale, I donate a percentage to environmental organizations, such as the Colorado State Forest Service and most recently the California Fire Foundation. My work is represented and featured at Sandra Philips Gallery in the Golden Triangle Museum District.

I also have been teaching for over fifteen years at various universities and colleges including a former position as Assistant Professor and Co-Coordinator of drawing at Metropolitan State University. I have been leading the Drop-In Drawing program at the Denver Art Museum since 2013; it occurs on the second Tuesday of the month from 1 – 3 p.m. We explore, using a variety of drawing media, inspiring art from the museum’s traveling exhibitions and collections.

There’s a wealth of academic research that suggests that a lack of mentors and networking opportunities for women has materially affected the number of women in leadership roles. Smart organizations and industry leaders are working to change this, but in the meantime, do you have any advice for finding a mentor and building a network?
Connections are a critical part of finding support, being supportive, and developing a sense of belonging. Building your own business is rewarding; providing opportunities to the larger community, in addition, is even more fulfilling. Spending time with your colleagues, discovering their stories and participating in their creative ventures expands your own journey in life.

Rebel Girls Goodnight Stories is a wonderful series of books that I read to my children. These books contain incredible stories of extraordinary women from the past and present. Re-visiting empowering stories of people who have contributed wisdom to the world can inspire us to continue their legacies and create our own. As contemporary humanitarian, Michelle Obama states, “There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.”

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Group Photo of Pink Progression artists at Women’s March
All portraits of Anna Kaye are photographed by Anthony Camera
All photographs of my artwork were taken by Marcia Ward

Suggest a story: VoyageDenver is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Judy Anderson

    October 8, 2019 at 10:40 pm

    Wonderful story about an amazing artist. Judy

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