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UNT alumna uses artwork to convey messages about the world

UNT alumna uses artwork to convey messages about the world

UNT alumna uses artwork to convey messages about the world
November 19
12:30 2020

Exploring different worldviews through the tip of her pen, a Dallas resident uses artwork as a means of making sense out of societal themes. UNT alumna and artist Kari Presswood-Perlman creates pen and ink illustrations to tell stories about how her life experiences have shaped her and how she sees others. 

“I like to look at how everything is really cyclical and [the] transformation within nature and how everything is interconnected in that way,” Presswood-Perlman said. “I do a lot of hiking and backpacking, and I like to really deeply look at the things that are around me while I’m there and find a metaphorical way to convey those things.”

Presswood-Perlman discovered her passion for illustrating during her time at UNT. She was initially in the communication design program, but after taking studio art classes, she discovered that was her area of interest. 

She is able to use these illustrations to translate her experiences with nature, conveying deeper meanings about her interpretation of the world. 

“I think we’re so focused on our structure [and] the way our society is now, that we tend to forget this more animalistic side of ourselves, and the way we naturally feel things,” Presswood-Perlman said. “I like to draw the attention to the things that we tend to push away in favor of our daily structure, more of those deeper emotions that we don’t tend to want to look at or acknowledge and that deeper passion that all of us have that I think sometimes a lot of us are too afraid to look at.”

Presswood-Perlman said she feels successful if her art can make the viewer feel any emotion, positive or negative.

“Some people have different reactions because I think people visually process things in so many different ways,” she said. “I have some people [who] look at my art and view it very light-heartedly, and then some people view it really deeply and passionately, which is how I view it, but I don’t necessarily feel a need to cultivate that in other people. I want everybody to take their own interpretation, and if I can benefit them in some way or make them feel or think a different thing, then I feel like I’ve been successful.”

Presswood-Perlman uses her art to metaphorically represent the experiences she had growing up.

“I had a very unique childhood and I think that is also a big source of it, that’s your shaping foundational experience that sets you up for the rest of your life, and I think mine was so unique and different that it completely modified the way I view the world,” Presswood-Perlman said. “I think it also gave me a way to have something interesting to say or provide a different perspective on how to approach things, and I think that naturally comes across with the way that I dissect concepts or emotions in my work.”

Those around Presswood-Perlman have seen her grow over the years, both as an individual and an artist. 

“When we first met, Kari was in a darker, more volatile place,” said Aaron Shelton, Denton resident and Presswood-Perlman’s friend. “What was then [a] ball of fiery adolescence has, through life experiences, become a balanced, mature woman of radiant confidence and clarity that comes through in her work.”

Nature and the idea of life and death go hand-in-hand in Presswood-Perlman’s work because in her definition of the circle of life, nothing ever goes away — they are just regenerated and distributed among other things.

“I don’t see life and death as this black and white thing — I see it more as a circle,” Presswood-Perlman said. “Sometimes I do work with skeletons or skulls, and I think that whenever you give something up it’s not just done, it’s a soil to then regenerate something new. I like to think of that too in the phases that I go through in my life. I think everybody can feel that way, that you go through many identities in your life, that when something’s not working anymore, that identity kind of dies off, but it is the foundational soil to then regenerate into something new.”

Aida Trevino, a Denton resident and Presswood-Perlman’s friend, said they choose to support her work because it challenges the clichés in the art community.

“Kari is able to tell stories through her art by expressing her interpersonal knowledge,” Trevino said. “Connections, nature, emotion and beauty are all common themes in her work. The best thing about Kari is that she has a thirst for knowledge, and [she] explores different mediums to keep her work interesting and fresh.”

Presswood-Perlman said going forward, she wants to explore different types of work but also hone in her skills to find her niche. 

“I’m trying to narrow everything down ultimately, but right now, I think I’m still in this exploratory phase and I’m trying to not hinder my creativity by just streamlining myself, but ultimately, that’s what I’d like to do,” Presswood-Perlman said. “I’d like to have a super solid, consistent, more professional body of work that I could ideally start showing one day in a bigger gallery.”

Those interested in Presswood-Perlman’s work can find her Instagram @goldcoyoteart. 

Courtesy Kari Presswood-Perlman

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Maria Lawson

Maria Lawson

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