Artwork for podcast Artsville
Looking at the World Differently with Kenn Kotara
Episode 1215th July 2022 • Artsville • Crewest Studio + Sand Hill Artists Collective
00:00:00 00:53:57

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Today’s guest on the Artsville Podcast is the one and only Kenn Kotara, a contemporary mixed-media abstract artist based in Asheville, North Carolina. Kenn’s practice has been shaped by his lifelong fascination with architecture, philosophy, and literature, and he masterfully expresses himself on canvas, paper, and Mylar, as well as braille, Polaroids, and site-specific installations that evoke a powerful emotional response from those who view them. In this episode, Kenn offers some insight into the evolution of his practice as he shifted from representational to abstract work and we discuss the impact that the ‘nurturing environment’ of Asheville has had on him as an artist. We dive into his work with braille and Kenn emphasizes the empathy he believes he has gained from it, as well as what it has taught him about being present and mindful in the moment. Ultimately, Kenn has devoted his career to looking at the world differently and embracing a myriad of inspirations, and his remarkable braille pieces reveal the thoughtful, multidimensional side of his practice. He also has a strong focus on education and he speaks to the power of art for bridging divides in a world where so many seek to widen them. If you’re looking for a dose of inspiration and, perhaps, a different perspective on life (and art), this is the episode for you! We hope you’ll join us.

For our full show notes, please visit:

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Kenn’s upbringing, his French Cajun heritage, and the Polish origins of his name, Kotara.
  • The story of what brought Kenn to Asheville more than 20 years ago.
  • What he loves about living and working in the ‘nurturing environment’ of Asheville.
  • The evolution of his work, from representational to abstract, and the impact Asheville has had.
  • Understanding the influence of architecture, graphic design, and technology on his work.
  • How Kenn cultivates discipline as an artist and navigates what he calls the chaos of creation.
  • A glimpse into Kenn’s work with braille and the perspective he says it gave him on perfection.
  • The relationships he has built within the visually impaired community as a result.
  • What working with braille taught him about truly being present in the moment.
  • Insight into the process of writing in braille and the tools and methodologies that he uses.
  • One of the major literary influences on Kenn’s work: Henry David Thoreau’s Walden.
  • Reflecting on the significance of his braille work for those who aren’t visually impaired.
  • The power of art to bridge gaps rather than create them, like so many politicians seek to do.
  • How Kenn’s site-specific installations encourage conversation and facilitate education.
  • Find out how and why Kenn came to be so articulate about his artwork.
  • Why Kenn is so devoted to his work in education, even as he formally retires from teaching.

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:




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