The February Art Lab at the Seattle Art Museum featured Kehinde Wiley-esque portrait making. Local artist Satpreet Kahlon joined us in the Nordstrom Art Studio at the Museum, where we studied some of Kehinde Wiley’s first works. We learned that he took local New Yorkers off the street as the subjects of his paintings. He chose to recreate famous paintings, such as “Napoleon Crossing the Alps,” using those street characters. After painting the street characters in regal poses, he added patterns to the background that symbolize wealth and prosperity. The patterns are always in high contrast to the New York locals in their street clothes.
Our instructor first asked us to think of six words or phrases that defined our character. I chose words like: logical, expressing knowledge, akin to nature, and whimsical. Then we chose our favorite characteristics and illustrated them in a pattern. I decided to focus on the fact that I am akin to nature, so I drew a root system.
After we had chosen our background patterns, we were asked to photograph the other participants in strong and empowering poses. Next, we printed and cut out our pictures and pasted them over our finished background pieces.
As you can see, my piece incorporates an empowering and feminine pose with roots coming down from my head, symbolizing expression of knowledge.
Find out more about Satpreet Kahlon at www.satpreetkahlon.com
The Seattle Art Museum holds its Art Labs for teens on the first Thursday of every month from 4 - 7 pm.