Kira Nam Greene Bio

I strive to create artworks that engage with a contemporary discourse while honoring the long history and tradition of painting. My latest portrait series, Room of Her Own, is an extension of this exploration and an homage to the achievements of accomplished women, the title drawn from Virginia Woolf’s novel, A Room of One’s Own. Woolf’s statement that “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write,” resonates with me as a woman and artist as well as my subjects, all women engaged in creative pursuits, whom I have posed to echo and evoke well-known historical figurative paintings enshrined within museum walls.

Interviews and research into the subjects’ lives generate ways for me to render them pictorially through allusions, icons, objects, patterns, and symbols. I depict the figure in a meticulous realist style at the center of the composition within a confined but shifting space to create a metaphorical or symbolic “room,” which serves as an allegory for the precarious terrain of women’s creative autonomy. Using a large array of techniques—exposed under-drawings, hyperrealism, hard-edged abstract elements, thick impasto in various media—the design elements in my paintings derive from diverse cultures as well as embracing the legacy of Pattern and Decoration Movement to create heterogeneous, colorful, and detailed paintings with recurring multicultural motifs. Each painting takes up to two months to complete, and I work on several portraits at once, so the paintings inform each other.

This combination of representational imagery and varied geometries celebrate the imagination’s role in shaping a pluralistic and malleable vision which I hope invites the viewer in for extended, sensual encounters with the paintings where diverse modes of representation coexist.

Born in Seoul, Korea, Kira Nam Greene lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. She received her BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute, her MFA from the School of Visual Arts, and her BA in International Relations from Seoul National University. Prior to becoming an artist, Greene earned her Ph. D in Political Science from Stanford University, specializing in Political Economy in East Asia, and taught a wide variety of subject matters in Political Economy both in academic and business settings. Greene has shown her work widely at venues such as the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Sheldon Museum of Art, Muskegon Museum of Art, Montgomery Museum of Fine Art, Orlando Museum of Art, Reading Public Art Museum, Brown University, Salisbury University, City College of New York (CUNY), Wave Hill, Bronx Museum of Art, Noyes Museum, Contemporary Art Matters, Lyons Wier Gallery, Accola Griefen Gallery, Gallery Korea, A.I.R. Gallery, and Jane Lombard Gallery. She is a finalist for the Outwin Boochever Portrait Award 2022 and currently the exhibition is touring major museum venues around the country. In 2019, Greene was a finalist for the inaugural Bennett Prize for female figurative painters. She was a Stewart MacMillan Chair in Painting at Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD in 2017-18 and was a part-time faculty of the Fine Arts MFA Program at Parsons School of Design. Her work has been covered in publications such as American Art Collector, Fine Arts Connoisseur, Smithsonian Magazine, Visual Arts Journal, Artnet News, Art F City, BmoreArt, Wallpaper, W Magazine, Lincoln Star Journal, Art21 Blog, Hyphen Magazine, The Korea Daily, and New York Art Beat.

You can view here most recent interview with Contemporary Art Matters here.