By Phillip Milano
For Lily Kuonen, assistant professor of foundations and drawing at Jacksonville University, painting has become about something more than just, well, paint.
It’s also about canvas, wood, tape, mirrors, studio scraps and even recycled materials from other artworks. Anything that can be used to turn something from a static piece of art into an expression of the movement and interaction between the elements that went into it.
“This playful integration of materials enables interpretation and promotes interaction,” she said. “My practice is not a closed loop. It is a chain linking materials from process to process.”
Hence, among her pieces is “Hoist,” a hanging box featuring canvases, florescent lights and ratchet straps. “Portal,” on the other hand, mixes wood, acrylic, cardboard tubing and fibreboard. And “Open/Close” is made with spray paint and mini-blinds that can be rotated by the viewer.
The Arkansas native’s works have been shown at exhibits in places ranging from Savannah to Vermont and from Jacksonville to Hong Kong. Her most recent show was May 2 as part of “CITYscape2012: Aquaint” at Foard Studio in downtown Jacksonville. Another is set for May 4, part of “Floridians” at the Florida Mining Gallery at 5300 Shad Road in Jacksonville.
“I am very excited to be included in this show. The Florida Mining Gallery is a bit off the beaten track, but it is well worth the trip,” Kuonen said. “The space is beautiful, and the show has really come together with an interesting force.”
Later this month, her work will also be featured in a Clay and Canvas Studio Open Studio Night in her studio space at 2642 Rosselle St., which she shares with JU visiting faculty member and ceramicist Tiffany Whitfield-Leach. An installation work by JU alum Mark Creegan, a local artist, will also be featured at the May 11 event.
The passion Kuonen brings to her artwork also comes out in her classroom, where she tries to trigger her students’ creative efforts to respond to society and culture through their art, she said.
“I also instill a rigorous work ethic, both by my own example and by what I expect out of my students, and I try to pique their interest in artistic practices or ideas they may be less familiar with through discussions, experiences and creative endeavors.”
More information on Kuonen and her work can be found at LilyKuonen.com.