The Art of Place: Creating the Nebraska Landscape
Karen Kunc lives in a world of wind and light and water. She brings Nebraska to life in her art and shares her technique with the community. In this edition of Faculty 101, learn more about Dr. Kunc who is the Cather Professor of Art in the School of Art, Art History and Design at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
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[00:00:00.000](calm piano music) (birds chirping)
[00:00:04.593]Nebraska is a place
[00:00:05.549]of open prairies, sand hills, and farmland.
[00:00:08.341](wind blowing) Wind, light, water. (running water)
[00:00:14.522]All the qualities of nature
[00:00:15.874]that have impressed themselves into my psyche.
[00:00:19.269]That's Karen Kunc,
[00:00:20.494]and her art is a reflection of place.
[00:00:23.579]Having an art form where I could address some
[00:00:27.664]of these issues kind of naturally grew
[00:00:30.510]from being in the landscape, understanding the space,
[00:00:34.785]traveling across the ground and seeing the undulations.
[00:00:40.962]And of course, it's interpreted
[00:00:42.583]through my art, it's symbolic.
[00:00:45.009]Her prints are exhibited all over the world.
[00:00:47.766]But Nebraska is her home, her heart, and her inspiration.
[00:00:51.370](upbeat music) - [Karen] Okay,
[00:00:52.336]you should switch partners now.
[00:00:53.989]To be able to inspire young people...
[00:00:56.060](laughter) - [Karen] Ace your finals.
[00:00:58.181]It's really rewarding.
[00:00:59.313]I love the students.
[00:01:00.772]Welcome to faculty 101.
[00:01:03.115]Life hacks and success stories from Nebraska Faculty.
[00:01:06.750](upbeat music) (sparkly music)
[00:01:09.835]Time for orentation, who is Karen Kunc?
[00:01:13.288]I'm a Cather Professor of Art
[00:01:15.910]in the School of Art, Art History and Design,
[00:01:18.940]and I teach print making and art of the book.
[00:01:21.500]Professor Kunc has a studio
[00:01:23.039]on campus but her newest venture ...
[00:01:25.255]Constellation Studios is my art center
[00:01:29.352]for print making, paper making, and book making.
[00:01:32.740]It's a cavernous building
[00:01:34.347]on the corner of a busy Lincoln Street.
[00:01:36.707]A vibrant mural greets visitors
[00:01:38.522]who pull into the parking lot, and inside ...
[00:01:41.807]I work here but part of the model
[00:01:43.979]of a print studio is that it's a collaborative space.
[00:01:47.044]Many people need to share equipment,
[00:01:49.802]and I have the equipment.
[00:01:51.228]I've really designed this so that members,
[00:01:54.447]local artists, artists in residence
[00:01:57.209]from around the country, can all join
[00:01:59.368]and work in the studio along with me.
[00:02:02.131]Constellation Studios provides a variety
[00:02:04.494]of presses and tools used to create art.
[00:02:07.881]Things that you just need at your fingertips.
[00:02:10.668]Hanging on one wall are brushes
[00:02:12.388]designed for different techniques.
[00:02:14.101]Well these are Japanese,
[00:02:15.639]were made in China, it's a very fine tip.
[00:02:17.901]This one when I'm dampening paper.
[00:02:19.711]Calligraphy strokes, the tamping brush. (quick brushing)
[00:02:23.325]Professor Kunc has conducted workshops
[00:02:25.043]in exotic locations from Japan to Iceland.
[00:02:28.579]She shares her techniques and learns from others,
[00:02:31.366]experience she brings back to the classroom.
[00:02:34.288]The workshop format of teaching,
[00:02:36.492]I like the intensity of it where
[00:02:38.250]you are just there with a group of people
[00:02:40.883]in a short amount of time, and we are
[00:02:44.633]having a common goal of conveying some ...
[00:02:48.957]technique, but also some concepts about why
[00:02:52.186]this technique could affect their art.
[00:02:55.138]And it ends up becoming a one-on-one
[00:02:57.879]teaching experience anyway, which is
[00:03:00.262]the great thing about art and how I think
[00:03:03.346]I'm best as a teacher is always
[00:03:05.493]on the one-on-one relationship.
[00:03:07.780](bubbly music) - [Narrator] Next, lab work.
[00:03:10.568]A deeper look at Professor Kunc's creative activity.
[00:03:14.055](bubbly music) Professor Kunc is well known
[00:03:18.163]for her large scale reduction wood cut prints.
[00:03:21.169]They start as blocks of wood that
[00:03:23.325]are destroyed as she works. (scraping)
[00:03:26.303]Carving and printing and carving and printing
[00:03:29.139]and carving and printing from...
[00:03:30.720]Until something spectacular emerges.
[00:03:33.141](sparkly music) A print by Karen Kunc
[00:03:36.300]is an adventure for the senses
[00:03:38.430]filled with abstract shapes, bold colors,
[00:03:41.119]elements that might suggest extremes
[00:03:43.449]in weather, or concepts like erosion.
[00:03:46.160]I sense patterns and ...
[00:03:49.858]shapes, graphic shapes that are in the landscape,
[00:03:52.887]and then they're interpreted through my drawing,
[00:03:55.553]and then once again interpreted
[00:03:56.946]through the medium of print making,
[00:03:58.723]which also adds something each time there is a
[00:04:02.682]kind of a transformation through process and concept.
[00:04:06.618]Professor Kunc shares her process
[00:04:08.426]in the classroom, at her community studio,
[00:04:11.180]and at Cedar point Biological Station.
[00:04:13.955]The university's field research and experiential classroom
[00:04:17.817]in the western high plains of Nebraska.
[00:04:21.023]About four and a half years ago,
[00:04:22.173]five years ago, we started this
[00:04:25.031]course called "Art at Cedar Point,"
[00:04:27.614]that's an inter-disciplinary course for all levels to
[00:04:32.464]work at the Cedar Point Station
[00:04:36.346]for a two week intensive class in art
[00:04:40.087]and then it has the opportunity
[00:04:42.240]to interact and engage with the science researchers
[00:04:45.488]that are going on as well, so it puts the two together
[00:04:49.388]in the same place, in a very special place.
[00:04:52.607](children shouting) - [Narrator] University students
[00:04:55.710]also lead art adventure camps for kids
[00:04:58.813]from the nearby Ogallala Public School system.
[00:05:01.691]Children create art that reflects the world around them.
[00:05:04.754]Sculptures made from the clay soil under their feet,
[00:05:07.793]or prints of dragonflies seen hovering in the water.
[00:05:10.953]Professor Kunc believes art and science belong together.
[00:05:14.974]A lot of people think art is just fun,
[00:05:17.376](laughs) and it's actually challenging, it's not always fun.
[00:05:22.413]It's about thinking and concept and hard work and analysis.
[00:05:28.304]And to have artists among the scientists
[00:05:31.296]using those same processes of creating a,
[00:05:35.017]a thesis, and doing the research which means making
[00:05:38.643]lots of work and making mistakes
[00:05:40.976]and finding dead ends and then coming out of that.
[00:05:45.385]I'm describing how a scientist is working.
[00:05:48.011]So, I think that's one of the goals, is to help
[00:05:52.865]elevate this idea of what artists can do
[00:05:55.723]and how they can be a contributor
[00:05:57.896]to understanding of our world. (country music)
[00:06:03.656]Ready for office hours?
[00:06:05.008]Professor Kunc explains how she got here.
[00:06:07.392](sparkly music) Why is Karen Kunc an artist?
[00:06:11.290]It just was kind of writ in my DNA.
[00:06:16.326]She grew up in Omaha,
[00:06:17.644]in a family that loved to be outside.
[00:06:20.583]Camping and hiking and canoeing and ...
[00:06:24.034]Part of rock hound family, she says.
[00:06:26.411]Collecting rocks and going to deserts
[00:06:28.482]and digging for petrified wood
[00:06:30.324]and finding fossils and quarries.
[00:06:33.277]Art also became a quiet refuge
[00:06:35.668]in the chaos of a big family.
[00:06:37.911]Four sisters and a brother.
[00:06:39.718]Her mother would send her outside.
[00:06:41.751]To go draw a flower for a card.
[00:06:44.137](laughs) so I always had this calming sense of
[00:06:48.515]going into the yard and studying something in nature.
[00:06:53.273]And everybody knew she was an artist.
[00:06:56.285]That was my identity, and I actually think that
[00:06:59.768]gave me some confidence throughout my whole life
[00:07:03.581]in that I didn't have to have the doubts about
[00:07:06.620]where I would go, what I would be, what I would do.
[00:07:10.430](country music) (lighthearted, sparkly orchestral music)
[00:07:14.787]Now it's time for a pop quiz.
[00:07:16.895]Random questions, life hacks, and wisdom for all of us.
[00:07:20.685](lighthearted, sparkly orchestral music)
[00:07:22.253]What can a parent do to
[00:07:23.086]encourage creativity in a child?
[00:07:25.435]Well, I certainly think creativity
[00:07:27.405]for children is vital, it's part of being human.
[00:07:31.645]Making art is essential, it's equivalent to
[00:07:35.853]what it does to the brain that's been proven
[00:07:39.359]that music does (light piano music) to the brain.
[00:07:42.205](light piano music) So does art.
[00:07:44.790]Visual art creates those pathways.
[00:07:47.489]It's so different than this automatic
[00:07:50.195]fed, feed (electronic noise) that comes
[00:07:53.890]from technology that now we accept as such a given.
[00:07:58.555]Actually making things with your hands shows an empowerment.
[00:08:02.718]And everybody should sense that because that is
[00:08:06.068]literally how we can change our world.
[00:08:08.863]We all think we're powerless, and it's forces
[00:08:11.900]way beyond our control but having this positive energy
[00:08:15.322]of people making things and affecting their life,
[00:08:19.874]having the things that they made around them
[00:08:22.559]actually can elevate their sense of well being.
[00:08:26.812]Do you have a habit that
[00:08:27.798]makes you happier, or more productive?
[00:08:30.582]Well, my habit is always
[00:08:32.760]that I have to take a walk in the morning, early.
[00:08:35.411]And once I do that, then I have energy the rest of the day.
[00:08:38.789]Sitting too much can really make me opposite of happy.
[00:08:43.401]I'm happiest when I'm working and moving and
[00:08:47.812]I have multitasking of art making, that's the best.
[00:08:52.261]Do you have a life hack for students?
[00:08:54.266]My usual advice for students
[00:08:55.912]is to always follow through, you know,
[00:08:58.249]we all can sit and dream and say,
[00:08:59.999]"Oh, we're gonna do this and we're gonna do this,"
[00:09:01.691]or somebody asks you this or invites you for this,
[00:09:04.377]and after that great energy and
[00:09:07.381]suggestion is embedded in the mind,
[00:09:09.774]you have to follow through to actually initiate those things
[00:09:13.505]and then that can lead to something
[00:09:16.753]that you don't know could be really significant
[00:09:20.871]and I believe those kind of risk taking chances
[00:09:26.146]are very important for opportunities,
[00:09:29.797]for creating some kind of an unknown
[00:09:33.674]that comes back and waves to you later.
[00:09:36.862]And finally, homework: draw, paint, create.
[00:09:41.282](sudden electric music) - [Karen] Adults need to
[00:09:45.207]take the risk themselves and do
[00:09:47.268]something new to keep learning.
[00:09:49.037]Actually, I run into lots of people
[00:09:51.096]who have that desire, they need
[00:09:52.851]to flip the switch and try other things.
[00:09:55.832]They are expressing this need,
[00:09:58.137]that most people have to bring something
[00:10:01.242]that they've put aside for other practical reasons,
[00:10:06.489]and why do we think that creativity is impractical?
[00:10:10.745]It actually is the most practical of all
[00:10:13.348]because it keeps your mind and your spirit alive.
[00:10:16.793]So, that's one of the reasons I have
[00:10:19.000]Constellation Studios so that they can come
[00:10:21.074]and take workshops with me and to see them push themselves,
[00:10:25.127]and still have this spark of energy
[00:10:28.122]that comes from doing something new and
[00:10:33.555]kind of a step by step technique that you can invent
[00:10:38.046]and find possibilities within.
[00:10:42.383]It is very exciting. (lighthearted music)
[00:10:47.276]That's it for Faculty 101.
[00:10:49.122]Thanks to Karen Kunc for sharing her creative genius.
[00:10:52.447]In the show notes, a link to Professor Kunc's work
[00:10:55.284]and to more information about art at Cedar Point.
[00:10:58.934]Next time, on the podcast, " - [Man] It's like
[00:11:01.076]an insanely complex and complicated machine,
[00:11:04.397]and I was able to study that."
[00:11:06.058]Find out more about Nebraska's connection
[00:11:08.332]to the largest Five Diamond resort in the world.
[00:11:12.607]Faculty 101 is produced by the
[00:11:14.555]University of Nebraska Lincoln.
[00:11:16.182](upbeat pop music)
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