Kelly Knaga

Garden Party

<em>Garden Party no. 2</em>, 2021, mixed media.
Garden Party no. 2, 2021, mixed media.

Illustrator and muralist Kelly Knaga wants us to appreciate the natural world, so she creates mixed media works to spark curiosity in her audience. “A lot of my work is about the intersection of nature and art,” she says, “exploring our human relationships to Mother Nature and the land.” Knaga lives outside Chicago, where she is designing her own house and studio on a parcel of land that borders on urban and rural areas.

  • Garden Party, 2021, mixed media.

Knaga observes how humans interact with one another and with nature—taking inspiration, for example, from “a good people-watching session at the park or train ride,” she says. Works like Garden Party mix freeform design with the documentary elements of photography. The multicolored lines upon a black-and-white photograph create a mood at once playful, light, imaginative, yet austere. Knaga hopes her work has something to say to those of us re-entering a world stricken by a pandemic. “The use of color [in these works] can also signify psychological effects that can take place during these transitions,” she says, “especially as we move slowly from isolating lived experiences into something that feels a little freer.”

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Noelani Kirschner is a former assistant editor for the Scholar.


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