“I had to come up with my own way of seeing things in order for them to make sense to me,” says painter, printmaker, sculptor, architect and alchemist Kia Pederson on finding her own visual identity. Based between New York City and Coecles Harbor on Shelter Island, Kia’s greatest artistic influence has been the inspired, delicate dance of wind on the water, which she translates into gestural pieces of art that combine experimental materials and texture with sharp, dramatic relief.
Having sailed since she was eight years old with her father William Pederson, the iconic architect and founding design partner of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (or KPF), Kia cites (in addition to dad), the dancer Martha Graham, painters Georgia O’Keefe and Jackson Pollock and the composers Chopin and Saint-Saens among her favorite creatives. With a varied background studying printmaking and sculpture at Carleton College and architecture at Yale, Kia also oversaw global store construction for brands like Polo Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein.
Ultimately, it was her desire to create works of art that resonated most. Ever since, she has adhered to her motto, to “keep it real,” a mantra as simple as her love for popcorn and beer. This spring, Kia and Tzelan begin an ongoing creative collaboration, transferring her unique art into products for everyday living, beginning with heritage porcelain plates.
Here, we decipher the multifaceted world of the inimitable artist:
—tar on copper portraits
Breaking the rules
“Abstraction is something that has always been held up high on a platform in my household. But for me, it’s not so much abstraction as it is coming up with a process that’s uniquely my own. I chose printmaking because there are a lot of rules in printmaking and I get to break the rules, and then they become mine. I enjoy things that are mine.”
A Creative Calling
“I really like working with my hands, so when I was in architecture, I used to love building models. But then, about fifteen years ago, I started noticing that computers were taking over. I was working for ‘Polo Ralph Lauren’ and then ‘Calvin Klein’…everything was digitized. We had to take photographs and link them on the computer and it just wasn’t satisfying to me anymore. I learned that I didn’t like managing projects as much as I did making things.”
Reading the wind patterns
“In the beginning, I really looked to my father to be my main critic since my family has been incredibly supportive. Any artist needs to have a benefactor and my parents have been those benefactors. But then I needed to take a big jump and start doing my own things, so it’s recently that I’ve been working more with galleries for input. They’re into colors that he’s not into (he likes black and white), whereas I’ve been very much into blues.”
Artist and Benefactor
“Whenever I think about my work, it’s really influenced by reading wind on the water. I’ve been sailing since I was eight, and my dad was the person that taught me. For the last six years, I’ve been racing, so I’ve sort of taken it to another level. I race three days a week in the summer time.”
Light in the East End
“Jackson Pollock’s house is out on the East end [of Long Island] near where i live. He’s on the mainland in Springs and I’m on Shelter island…but he is still [very much alive] there because his house has been kept as a museum and you can go in and put on these little booties and walk over the floor that he painted on, which is much like an abstract painting on the floor. So I feel very much his kindred spirit in terms of the quality of light in the East end. Joseph Giovannini was nice enough to say to me that I was the next generation of Jackson Pollock, which was one of the best compliments I’ve had.”
Collaborating with Tzelan
“It’s been very exciting to work with tzelan because I love home products, and we designed charger plates for a bowl to sit on top of so there’s still a visual, viewing component. Also, in my family, when you come home with a beautiful bowl, it’s an exciting event. It’s very organic. When my dad would come home from trips to Japan or Korea, he would bring an object, and it always came in a beautiful box and it was always something he picked out lovingly.”
The Lightness of Touch
“The more you want to touch it, the more I like making it. It’s a sensual quality and for me, when I see something I really like, I want to touch it. It’s also a reaction to being in museums where everything is cordoned off and says ‘Don’t Touch.’ Since the architecture in my family is so pristine, you feel like you can’t touch anything. Now, in my parents’ apartment, it’s filled with my art. So there’s this very formal architecture with very gestural paintings…I manage to bring an organic quality into my father’s architecture.”
Minimal Everyday Living
“I’m a minimalist. I have very few things and I love materials, like my floor in the city, which is teak with wide boards. Then I have one of my carpets from the University of Michigan that I had made. My whole apartment was intended to be a showcase for my work, so it’s really meant as a gallery space.”