Paintings Inspired by High and Low Art

Paintings Inspired by High and Low Art

Beverly Kedzior is an American painter in Chicago whose works have been exhibited in numerous solo and group events in the United States. She translates her love of cartoons into abstract works through bulbous images that invade backgrounds, as well as medical illustrations. Kedzior’s artistic process has a lot in common with printmaking, as she uses masking tape to cut through and reveal images.

Kedzior is a graduate of Barat College and the Art Institute of Chicago. Her work has been shown in more than one hundred national and international exhibitions, including the Chicago Cultural Center, Kraft Lieberman Gallery, University of Illinois, David Weinberg Gallery and the Springboard Arts Gallery. Her work has been reviewed and written about in Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Reader, South Bend Tribune, Daily Chronicle, St. Paul Pioneer Press, as well as other publications. She has curated several exhibitions for the Evanston Art Center and the Art Center of Highland Park. Her work is represented in numerous public collections including the Capitol One Bank, South Bend Museum of Art, The Weitzman Foundation, Schiff Hardin & Waite, College of Lake County, and others.

Interview with Beverly Kedzior

By Jennifer Nelson, WTP Feature Writer

Nelson: Evidently, as a child you were fascinated by Walt Disney films, Dr. Seuss books, and The Jetsons cartoons. How have these influences from childhood impacted your art, particularly in the Spatial series?

Kedzior: When I was young, I had books on the Disney animated films. I traced the images in the books over and over again. Years later, in art school, I realized how much those images affected the work I was doing. My work resembled the backgrounds in the animated movies only in abstracted form with a few bulbous shapes (think 7 Dwarfs) in the foreground. Lately, I have been drawn to Dr. Seuss books. His wacky world makes me laugh. I get lost in the story and soon I am starting a sketch or two based on his drawings. I usually turn the books upside down to see the images in a more abstract way.

An abstract painting with a grey background and black and white-and-black spotted shapes throughout
Beverly Kedzior, High Heights. Acrylic on canvas, 40” x 30”

Nelson: Please talk about the techniques you use to create your paintings, as well as your use of such unconventional tools as cutting knives, masking tape, rollers, and squeegees.

Kedzior: Years ago, I took a class with a master printmaker. The techniques I learned there spill over into my work. I usually start by sketching the image onto the canvas or panel, then use masking tape along the edges of the drawings. I cut the masking tape and peel it off to reveal the area that will take the paint. Then I use squeegees or rollers to drag the paint across the area.  Sometimes I splatter paint or blot the paint with a sheet of paper to get some spidery texture  After I am happy with the result of mixed, blended, splattered, or blotted paint, I remove the tape.

An abstract painting featuring neutral squares of varying shades of tan and brown
Beverly Kedzior, Tip Toe II. Mixed media on panel, 14” x 14”

Nelson: How did your discovery of a genetic disorder, named Fragile X, in your family history inform your artwork?

Kedzior: When I became aware that there was a genetic disorder in my family history, I delved into genetic and medical books seeking answers. What I found there, were organic, bulbous forms that resembled the images I was using in my paintings. So I made a conscious effort to add those images to the ones I was already using.

An abstract painting. Most of the background is grey, with black and white cloud-like shapes throughout, as well as red triangles.
Beverly Kedzior, Watching Bees. Mixed media, 40” x 30”

Nelson: Your Geometric series is mixed-media paintings that evoke a sense of play. Please describe your use of acrylic, graphite, and collage papers in this series, as well as your processes.

Kedzior: The Geometric series is particularly fun to do. After creating a few paintings with the masking tape and a bit more controlled painting techniques, I love to shift to a more intuitive mode. I start splashing some paint around and glue on torn illustrations from children’s books or magazines. The process is one of adding and subtracting. Sometimes a juicy bit of color or illustration gets completely covered by paint. Then an interesting under layer or color or image will reappear after dragging a spatula across the wet paint. It is completely out of my hands and control and that is the fun of it.

An abstract painting. A light tan background with neutral colored cloud shapes and wood-grain shown throughout
Beverly Kedzior, Comings and Goings. Mixed media on canvas, 40” x 30”

Nelson: What artists do you look to for inspiration?

Kedzior: I find inspiration in both high and low art. I love the movement in Kandinsky’s paintings and the stylized images in Klimt. I learn something every time I see the way Gauguin uses color and shapes to divide his paintings. But I find equal inspiration from Basquiat, Lichtenstein and Rauschenberg. The “low” art that inspires me are Disney, Pixar, The Jetsons, Spongebob, and lately, Dr. Seuss.

An abstract painting. A mostly light grey/white background with orange and dark grey cloud-like forms throughout.
Beverly Kedzior, Hearing a Who. Acrylic on canvas, 36” x 36”

Nelson: How does listening to music while you paint impact your artwork, particularly in your Process series?

Kedzior: I wish I could say that I listen to classical music when I paint. The truth is, I listen to music from bands from the ’70s and ’80s. I crank up the music of Queen, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, and The Motley Crue, to name a few. That music fills me with just the right amount of pumped up energy.

An abstract painting. A neutral grey background with red, grey, white, and black cloud-like forms throughout
Beverly Kedzior, From There to Here. Acrylic on canvas, 40” x 30”

Nelson: How do you see your artwork evolving in the future?

Kedzior: I think my work will be a bit more simplified in the future. I will still be influenced by “high” art and “low” art, but it may shift somewhat. I find it hard to see what may be in my future when it comes to my art but I have seen subtle changes. I love experimenting and when it goes well, those new ideas and/or techniques find their way into new work.

An abstract painting, made up of neutral tan and brown colors, mostly rectangular shaped, with line shapes drawn throughout.
Beverly Kedzior, Humdinger II. Mixed media on canvas, 36” x 24”

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