Originally from Istanbul, Samuray Arkvardar began taking art classes as a teenager in the basement of the local art museum. She was also very studious, and instead of pursuing her art immediately, she became an engineer and received a PhD in geophysics. “While working, I continued art classes wherever I could find time, visited galleries, and read about art,” says Samuray. In 2010, she finally decided to focus on making art full time. Samuray began taking art classes in California and further developed her contemporary style. Her figurative work is concerned with portraying the psyche through interpretations of portraiture. Using collage materials, including transparent acrylic sheets, Samuray aims to convey the complex layers of modern human existence.
INTRODUCING: JOHNNY KARWAN
Johnny Karwan’s body of work is best described as stylized realism on birch panel. The wood grain shows through in each composition, which somehow feels simultaneously traditional and surreal. “The texture and grain of the wood that shows through the transparent layers of paint, makes its own statement in a way, as the fingerprint of its natural origins that persist beyond the transformation from tree to painted surface,” says the artist. Johnny is inspired by natural history and objects of the past, which contributes a vintage feel to the work. Johnny’s studio is based in his 1904 Edwardian flat in the historic Haight Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco.
INTRODUCING: ALANA CLUMECK
Australian-born Alana Clumeck was raised by artistic parents who owned a pottery studio during her youth. Although she grew up throwing pots, it wasn’t until she was pregnant with her second child that she began painting as creative therapy. For Alana, being an artist is entwined with motherhood. She works from her home studio, so she often paints while watching her children play. When the kids are at school, painting becomes precious meditative time alone. “Since my discovery of art came as a form of therapy, I still use it to paint out my thoughts or feelings,” says Alana. “I will often use symbolism within my paintings to represent how I feel.”
INTRODUCING: DANIEL DETERS
Daniel Deters’ path to becoming an artist was anything but simple. He was adopted from an orphanage and grew up on a farm where he had no exposure to fine art. At 18, Daniel heard Beethoven for the first time. “It felt as if a kind of muting skin, a veil, was torn away from my awareness,” he recalls. “I had self-understanding. Purpose.” He began to pursue creative outlets including musical composition, film, and photography. Daniel’s current body of work is best described as digital etchings. The images begin as digital photographs at 300dpi, which is considered high-resolution, but Daniel finds it insufficient to capture the complexities of trees, his chosen subject matter. He increases the image resolution to 1200dpi and uses a digital pen to eliminate visual noise, highlighting the intricacies of each twig and branch. The final result is astoundingly sharp black-and-white imagery that represents an elevated and artful interpretation of nature photography.
INTRODUCING: JIELA RUFEH
As a career photographer, Jiela Rufeh has experimented over the years with ways to reinvent her medium. Her current body of work employs encaustic, a method using hot wax to create texture on the surface of an artwork. “The encaustic medium captured my interest with its sculpture-like qualities that come from building up layers of wax and embedding various media,” says Jiela. “This medium suddenly broadened my ability, allowing me to express myself on multiple levels and imbue my work with layered narratives.” The content of Jiela’s work is influenced by cross-cultural spirituality including Native American mysticism, shamanism, Eastern philosophy, and kundalini yoga. The resulting body of work is visually complex with a haunting, surreal quality.
INTRODUCING: MCGARREN FLACK
Utah-based artist McGarren Flack captures everyday moments of human vulnerability through painterly realism. His career as a paramedic brings him face-to-face with people at their most helpless moments, which inspired him to contemplate the nature of being vulnerable. Whether sitting alone in a cafe or unknowingly dropping a possession on the street, the human condition is always subject to powerlessness. “It is important for me to share these scenes because I believe it will help the viewer connect to humanity,” says McGarren. “There is no escaping the feeling of vulnerability; it is blind to skin color, social status, and age.”
INTRODUCING: CHRISTA FORREST
Christa Forrest is a Connecticut artist specializing in mixed media. After spending 20 years in a finance career, she decided to follow her creative passion and become a full-time artist. Christa’s art combines contemporary realism and soulful exploration. Her body of work titled “The Emerging Goddess” presents female subjects as triumphant icons. Christa explains, “The empowering female icon, whether religious, spiritual or superhero–she is what we envision within ourselves. Who we strive to be. Who we want to become. Who we are when all the other layers are taken off to reveal our inner selves.”