I am a painter, muralist, illustrator and designer. I am originally from Atlanta but have lived and/or studied in several different cities including Prague, Boston, Chicago, New York, Halifax, Cape Town and New Orleans. Each place has contributed invaluable inspiration for which I will be forever grateful. In addition to working in my studio and on walls, I co-run Luna Raae, a vintage and styling business.
My present studio practice is split between two series. The first consists of creating layered oil paintings on panel and canvas. I have been exploring a body of paintings, which I call "Where-Scapes". They are essentially imaginary landscapes. My intent is to create a space that lingers between worlds and inspires a sense of curiosity. I am attempting to explore the dualism of absence and presence, where a human imprint is felt in an ethereal space and light emerges from darkness.
The second series I have been working on are imaginary deities painted on salvaged wood found around New Orleans. They are inspired by the spirituality and colorful nature of the crescent city, elements of medieval iconography, Russian nesting dolls, contemporary street art and American folk art. They are a release for me to make, a space to play with color and pattern.
In honoring the strength of feminine energy and the beauty of our natural world, these pieces are intended to bring good energy in these difficult times.
Alexandra Kilburn is a New Orleans artist living and working in the French Quarter.
Questions & Answers
Describe your art in three words.
Oil Series: Layered, pensive, atmospheric
Acrylic Series: Playful, colorful, detailed.
Describe yourself in one word.
What do you love the most about creating art in New Orleans? What particular part of your immediate environment, in your neighborhood specifically influences your work?
I am constantly awestruck by the sky in New Orleans. It always feels so close, and the colors and clouds are shifting and spectacular. I am also always influenced by images and themes of water, which New Orleans has a significant history with; the water here represents both a support of life and a source of destruction, a yin and yang that is a frequent theme in my paintings. Life in general here in New Orleans is simply so colorful and wholeheartedly appreciative of the present moment, a feeling that is inspiring in and of itself.
Describe your creative process. Are there any rituals or rites of passage you exercise before you begin a new piece?
For oil paintings my ritual is in the layering. I apply the layers in a similar way on each piece. I paint very intuitively. I don't plan specifically what will happen, but I generally have an idea for color fields or draw from photographs or dreams I've documented. For acrylic and illustrative work, I typically begin with a primed shape and fill in the personality by building with color and pattern.
Where do you draw inspiration?
For my oil paintings (and just in general), I am inspired by ideas of mortality and transience, the visual qualities of shifting light, the ebb and flow and utter power of water, the delicacy of our existence made bearable by the strength of human connection, the layers of the earth and the fascinating mysteries of the deep ocean, ideas of what comes after life balanced with appreciation for the present, the power and fragility of memory with inevitable gaps and inventions, the incomprehensible vastness of the universe and our human depth and complication despite being so comparatively small. How much we have learned but how little we really know about the space we inhabit. I am always inspired by the strength of women and expression of femininity in all its forms, and I like to combine that energy with botanical illustration to bring us back to the earth.
Who are your artistic influences or gurus?
For oil paintings : J.M.W. Turner, James Turrell, Ambera Wellmann, Claire Sherman...so many more. The drawings and acrylic pieces are really inspired by growing up on Howard Finster and Mose T as well as a myriad of contemporary street artists.
In New Orleans, art and music go hand in hand. What type of music, band or song lyric best describes your work?
For the oil 'Where-scapes' : Emmylou Harris' Wrecking Ball album. It was a childhood favorite and still strikes a specific emotional chord with me, always making me think about the subtleties of memory. It has beautiful layers of sound. I've been loving Sabrina Claudio lately as well. My acrylic works are more lighthearted and I listen to all types of music and podcasts when I'm working.
Where can we find you when you are not creating art?
Most likely riding my bike in the sun or wandering with my beautiful Catahoula mutt Luna, enjoying this pace of life with the people I love.
What is your favorite time of day/day of the week/month of the year?
Magic hour, or golden hour, is my favorite time of day, when the sun softens and warms but twilight hasn't quite hit yet. Everything has a radiant quality and it's just so beautiful. Sundays are my favorite days because they are so leisurely and celebratory, most especially in New Orleans. I love all the seasons here because luckily we don't stay cold for long!
What is something people don’t know about you? A fun fact.
I have moved 11 times over the course of my life to different cities and countries, but New Orleans holds my heart in a way that feels more permanent. I love to travel but the feeling of finding a home base for the foreseeable future is truly special. I smile uncontrollably whenever I land at Louis Armstrong Airport.
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Where You Can Find My Work
All works listed online are available to be viewed at Where Y’Art Gallery by appointment.
My work is often shown at Oleander Gallery at 1000 Royal Street, and my studio is available for visit by appointment and is located in the French Quarter. Please login and send me a private message for a studio visit.