Kirsten Rae Simonsen

Driftless Region, from the Encampments series, acrylic, graphite, and colored pencil on wood panel, 2014, 11" x 14"


My work reflects an interest in the built environment, utopias, and dystopias. Investigations include architectural displacement, nomadism, the carnivalesque, notions of home, private versus public property, nostalgia, and the promises of the suburban and pastoral fantasies. Being of Northern European ancestry, I find that I am compelled by colonial and postcolonial narratives. I have been deeply influenced by the time I have spent in Northern Europe and in Southeast Asia. I spent a year studying traditional drawing and painting in Bali, Indonesia. While there, I also studied with a traditional Balinese painter in Sukawati, Batuan. The “Batuan style” of Balinese painting is dense and very line based; it is heavily narrative and verges on fantasy and a Henri Rousseau-like vision. I continue to return to Bali. I also have lived on and off in London and Amsterdam, and am continually drawn back to both. Both Northern Europe and Southeast Asia feel like home to me, yet I was born in Montana and grew up near Chicago. For most of my childhood, I travelled every summer with my parents for three months across the United States and sometimes Europe: I always felt at home and not at home simultaneously in various locations. As I have grown older, I have continued to return to the same places in North America: San Francisco, Eugene, Portland, and then in Europe: London, Amsterdam, and ultimately in Southeast Asia: Bali. I currently live in Honolulu, once again "displaced" and yet totally at home in a place not quite North America, not quite Asia.