Emerging Artists | Rebecca Kinkead

Hula No. 9, oil, 45 x 40.

When Oprah Winfrey was visiting Park City, UT, last year, paintings by Rebecca Kinkead, on view at Terzian Galleries, caught her discerning eye. Winfrey soon purchased her favorite, which depicted several little girls decked out in pink tutus. The Oprah purchase even made the front pages of the town’s newspaper, and Kinkead was thrilled when she heard the news, she says. Since she has always admired Winfrey, the fact that her painting would hang in one of Winfrey’s homes was an honor.

Kinkead describes herself as a late bloomer in the art world. She first studied political science and education before earning a second bachelor’s degree in studio art at Minnesota State University in Mankato. Today the palette-knife painter is known for her figurative art, and she specifically focuses her artistic eye on children. Initially she created abstract canvases, she says. But after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, she turned her attention to paintings that were, in her mind, more connected to humanity and the human condition.

Chairlift, oil, 40 x 45.

Kinkead says her visual and emotional intent is to portray spontaneous moments in the lives of boys and girls. “Children are so free and uninhibited with their movements and play,” she says. “And they speak to me of the universal collective memory.”

Viewers of Kinkead’s paintings can expect to see her signature youngsters depicted as they twirl hula hoops, zoom down sidewalks on bikes, and skip rope on a driveway. A quintessential Kinkead figure is also marked by a lack of facial features a deliberate decision on her part because she wants to evoke a certain universality in the images. Viewers can then see themselves in the paintings and possibly conjure up childhood memories of their own. “I want to talk about the human spirit in my works and capture very small moments of joy,” Kinkead says. —Bonnie Gangelhoff

Terzian Galleries, Park City, UT; McLarry Modern, Santa Fe, NM; Gardner Colby Galleries, Naples, FL; Eisenhauer Gallery, Edgartown, MA; Jules Place, Boston, MA; Pryor Fine Art, Atlanta, GA; West Branch Gallery & Sculpture Park, Stowe, VT; Judy A Saslow Gallery, Chicago, IL; Whistler Village Art Gallery, Whistler, BC, Canada; Edgewater Gallery, Middlebury, VT; Cavalier Galleries, Greenwich, CT; www.rebeccakinkead.com.

Featured in May 2012.