Painter Kira Nam Greene has been working for over the past 15 years since graduating from School of Visual Arts with her MFA. Her large-scale works on paper and installations amalgamate multiple mediums and content, merging realism and abstraction. Mainstays of her work are an ornamental approach to surface, a deep research practice pointing to specific cultural identities, as well as her own lived experience. Her work exhibits an affinity for saturated colors and a painterly absorption of pop grammar. Born in Seoul, Korea, Greene now lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.
I met Kira when I was interim chair of the Painting Department at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) this past fall. Kira comes to Baltimore from New York, where she is a full-time artist. Her role at MICA is the Geneviève McMillan/Reba Stewart Endowed Chair in Painting, which was established in 2006 for an annual visiting female artist faculty in painting, whose work explores perspectives from diverse cultures.
Amy Sherald, Baltimore artist and resident, who recently painted Michelle Obama’s portrait for the National Portrait Gallery collection, shared the McMillan/Stewart position along with Kira Nam Greene this past academic year – contributing as guest critics in student studios as well as giving lectures. This ongoing program is integral to bringing visionary women artists into the MICA community. For Kira, this past year was also an opportunity for her to get to know Baltimore.
Kira and I sat down in early May in Baltimore to talk teaching, artmaking, the historic Pattern and Decoration movement, and Kira’s aesthetic philosophies and personal background. We had just viewed together the Miriam Schapiro mini-survey at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, so art history and ornament were on our minds.