Kara Hendershot: 100 Creatives

Number 95: Kara Hendershot
City: St. Paul

Years spent living in MN:

Kara Hendershot isn't just an artist in the city. She is also an important figure working behind the scenes. In addition to exhibiting her paintings around town (and recently on a national level), she also works to give exposure to other worthy local artists. She does this as the Press and Communications Coordinator at Altered Esthetics, as a member of the St. Paul Art Crawl Committee, and by serving on the board of directors for the Northern Warehouse Artists' Co-operative in Lowertown St. Paul, where her studio is also located. Her paintings have a distinctly dreamlike quality to them yet feel very much alive, whether a piece captures a quiet moment of personal humanity, or the electric rush of a crowd in the city.

[jump] Name three things that are inspiring your work right now:

1.  People
2.  Community/society
3.  The fall season and upcoming winter

Name three things that inspired and/or motivated you as a budding creative type:

1.  The creative people in my family while growing up
2.  Professor Fennell, an amazing artist and teacher
3.  The need to let ideas and feelings out, without actually having to say them

What was your last big project?

A collaboration with friend and fellow artist Summer Scharringhausen. We have an ongoing project that consists of a giant, humorous painting that is continuously repainted for various Altered Esthetics Gallery theme shows. We have a blast just coming up with new ideas for the piece and working on each new version. We call our collaborative effort Happy Accidents, and we're all about liberation, spontaneity, and pure fun.

What do you have going on now or coming up in the near future that should be on our radar?

My father and I are about to create a new body of work based on a past collaborative project.  He is a photographer and I have always admired him and his work. We are both drawn to some of the same imagery: cityscapes, graffiti, aging buildings washed with decay, lonely urban wanderers. The pieces consist of black and white silver gelatin prints, mounted onto plywood, where the edges of the print are then extended into a painting.

Creative/career high point (so far)?:

My work was recently featured in a national juried publication. It was the first time I have had any national exposure. It is exciting for me because I want to explore new exhibiting opportunities regionally and nationally.  

What has been your biggest challenge as an artist?

The balance of it all. People think that just because you are an artist, all you get to do is paint all day, like it's one big fun painting party. Outside of creating, you have to balance everything that goes along with being an artist and managing a studio--working side jobs to support studio supplies and exhibition costs; marketing and promoting; documenting a portfolio; networking; researching galleries, and a lot more. Even though I love nothing more than to enjoy those times when I can tune everything out and just paint away, the challenge is balancing the creation and production aspects with the business and promotion side.    

How has the local scene changed since you began your career?

I think the art community keeps getting stronger, especially in the recent couple of years. As many businesses have had to close their doors due to the economy, artists have stuck together and worked harder to maintain a sense of place and community. The amount of support that artists give each other is amazing. I think we have a really strong community here.  

I also feel that there is a growing appreciation and support for local artists and musicians. The accessibility of art events--open studio tours, frequent exhibition openings, artist-run galleries--has opened many new eyes to the appreciation of art, and this has led to an increase in support for local artists.   

How do you go about choosing your subject matter? Are you often creating portraits of actual individuals, or is it more of a process of recreating ideas/moods?

I have always been drawn toward people as my subject matter. People are fascinating, mysterious, and frustrating--all at the same time. What is interesting to me, is that you can never fully know what it's like to be somebody else or to get inside their head, even though we try to. People put on a facade, and this creates distance. I like to hint at this notion in my work by posing questions to the viewer about the people in the painting and their connection to, or detachment from, their surroundings. The individuals in my paintings can represent anyone from myself, to friends, to complete strangers, to imagined personalities.    

Sometimes I try to recreate a moment from a mood or memory, but sometimes the act of trying to recreate it can take on a whole different meaning altogether, and then the whole process changes.  

Describe your last dream:

I was lost in Como Park. Except it wasn't actually Como Park because it was one of those dreams in which the place you think you are at is represented by a bigger, more elaborate version of itself. There was definitely a zoo though, just like Como. But the park was enormous. I kept trying to find the exit but when I did, I would start driving away, only to find myself looping back there again, and again. It was so frustrating.

Do you have a suggestion for someone whose work we should be checking out? Feel free to leave your top picks in the comments.

Past creatives, so far:

100. Jennifer Davis
99. Sean Smuda
98. Chuck U
96. Amy Rice