Kunik began as a watercolorist and landscape painter, but wanting to work more conceptually, she returned to school, earning a BFA from Otis College of Art and Design. Informed by environmental issues and questions that impact daily life, Kunik’s abstract paintings began referencing environmental problems, which prompted her to begin a four-year community gardening project that also fed a large number of hungry artist/gardeners. Kunik then turned to fine art photography in order to investigate perception as it relates to the vegetables she cultivated in her gardens. Using photos from her travels as a reference, she then began combining photography and painting and an emulsion process to continue her exploration of perception.
Kunik has been in more than 80 exhibitions, including numerous solo shows. She has also exhibited most recently at Art Basel in 2018 and Art Basel Miami in 2017, at Germany’s Contemporary Art Ruhr, in Italy, Thailand and Peru. Her work has been in Photo LA (2011 and 2012), and has also been shown in galleries and museums in New York and throughout California. In addition, Kunik had painting residencies in Canisy, France, Assisi, Italy, and Civitella D’Agliano and Casalabate, Italy. Kunik was born in Chicago, Illinois, earning a BA degree from the University of Illinois and an MS from Chicago’s DePaul University. She moved to Beverly Hills, CA in 1978, where she currently resides.
The land has always been a reference and source of inspiration for my art. My first paintings were watercolor landscapes. But wanting to work more conceptually, I began to ask questions regarding issues that combined formalism, globalization and those concerning the environment. These queries led to using both abstraction and representation in an attempt to present these issues, with the hopes of beginning a dialogue that would bring an awareness of the earth’s profound beauty, as well as a realization of how truly fragile the land is. To entice the viewer to look more closely, I began filling the canvas with images of lush, sensual colors. These paintings referenced environmental problems: deforestation, water pollution and global warming. However, it was the melting of glaciers that drew me deeper into these devastating environmental issues, issues that ultimately reflect the human condition. Encountering a large piece of broken glass in an alley one day, I immediately conjured glaciers breaking apart and melting - landscapes under transformation. However, the broken glass, which then created the compositions for my paintings, is also a symbol of how life evolves, the intersection of what is planned and what happens accidentally in the human experience—the nature of causality. Other explorations of the parallels between the environment and humanity led to a multi-year gardening project, one that not only brought artists together, but also established a community within a community. Concurrently, this project led to feeding numerous people, and established the art project as two-fold: the act of working in the garden and building community, with the garden, itself, becoming the “painting, “ its planting, sowing and harvesting an ever-changing composition. This project and those that followed began my investigation of perception. How do we read images? How different are people’s perceptions of the same image? How can we play with their perceptions and simultaneously begin a dialogue of what an image might convey, or is trying to convey? The final step - photographing the garden - resulted in a close-up view of heirloom tomatoes that, not so remarkably, showed their sensual side; further photographic investigation then involved tearing these same tomatoes apart and photographing their insides. The tomatoes, and what they represent, become a metaphor for life. My explorations continue into the vital realms of researching perception, environmental issues and the human condition.