Exhibition Dates: March 26 – May 6, 2023
Opening Reception: Sunday, March 26, 2023, 3:00 – 6:00 pm
Afterwards, please join us for a private happy hour across the street at the Quincy Street Distillery.
Gallery hours: Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays 1:00 – 5:00 pm
Artist Talk: Saturday, April 22, 2023 at 2:00 pm
Exhibition Catalogue: Will be available for purchase at the gallery and online
The Riverside Arts Center’s Freeark Gallery is pleased to present Over the Rainbow, One More Time, a solo exhibition of paintings and mixed media art by Laura Kina. Over the Rainbow, One More Time is about starting over. It’s about grief and life in the after. Conceived during the Covid-19 pandemic, in the wake of surviving breast cancer, the end of a 25 yearlong marriage, and coming out as queer, Laura Kina’s art traces her journey and memories through trauma into wellness and the unknown.
The Brightness of Day Highlights the Dark
What happens when you are diagnosed with breast cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic, undergo surgery, chemotherapy, drug side effects and withdrawals, come out as queer, get committed to a psychiatric hospital, divorce your partner of twenty-five years, and are forced to find a new home? If you are the artist Laura Kina, you document the events, trauma, and discoveries in writings and photographs; reach out to family, friends, and therapy; and create art.
Identity has always been a subject of Kina’s artwork, from her textile-based paintings depicting her Asian American, white, Okinawan heritage to her landscape paintings of Okinawan World War Two military sites. Her recent work delves deeper into her own personal identity, resulting in a dark palette of mourning blacks and acrid hospital blues contrasted by vibrant rainbow reds, yellows, and greens. Kina’s paintings maintain the blacks of the underlying charcoal drawing, emphasizing the dark containing lines, akin to Japanese woodblock prints. The charcoal deepens the emotions of sorrow and fear as evident in her series depicting her cancer treatments; “Waiting Room,’ “Sick Bed,” “Chemo Bay,” and “ER.” The trauma of her view from these rooms for hours on end can be felt through the bold ebony, delineating washes of moody color.
“Cancer: Call and Response,” is a wall of anger and hurt, confronting us with poster-sized depictions of the insults the artist was forced to endure along with symbols of her ordeal. Through quick and bold strokes, she conveys the raw emotions from her tumultuous whiplash of physical and mental collapse due to cancer, medical drugs, and human relationships. Kina shares a glimpse into her art process with the installation “Homeostasis,” consisting of small paintings, photographs, clothing, pill bottles, books, and gifts; a dimensional scrapbook of Kina’s last three years leading up to this exhibition. The photographs play a key role in preserving memories for the artist; a practice instilled from her mother’s extensively curated family albums. The artist sees her photographs like preparatory sketches for her paintings and prompts for her stories.
A skilled writer, Kina shares the details of her journey with accompanying essays. Each panel of her triptych, “Can You See Me, Auntie Laura,” “S’More Nightcap,” and “Beauty on the Edge (Big Fir Tree in My Parents’ Backyard),” stands as a bold statement of her life changes and the importance of family. When combined they create a storyline of moving color and depth, further amplified by her poignant writing. Laura Kina invites us into her personal traumas and travails, with the understanding that through sharing these stories, she and others can support one another toward healing and forming communities of caring. Her art and writing speak to anyone affiliated with those inflicted with cancer, who have come out, who have gone through divorce, or who have had their lives turned upside down.
A recurring element throughout Laura Kina’s paintings is the depiction of a window or a source of light. The views from her cancer treatment beds, the s’more fire, the string of lights hanging off the porch of her former home, and the namesake painting of the exhibition, “Over the Rainbow, One More Time,” contain these symbols of hope and optimism for a brighter future. This latter artwork, depicting a view from her new home with the sunrise casting a strong ray of light into her small dark bedroom, gives promise that a queer, mixed-race, divorced, cancer surviving artist can indeed start life anew.
– Joanne Aono, curator
Laura Kina is a queer mixed-race Okinawan American artist and scholar. She received her BFA in Painting and Drawing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and MFA in Studio Art from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Kina has exhibited her paintings and mixed-media art nationally and internationally in galleries and museums including the Chicago Cultural Center, India Habitat Centre, India International Centre, Japanese American National Museum, Okinawa Prefectural Art Museum, Rose Art Museum, the Smithsonian Archives of American Art, Spertus Museum, and the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience. Kina is an Art Matters Foundation Grantee, and through 3Arts – 3AMP Mentorship artist, a Make a Wave artist, Joan Mitchell Center Fellow, 3AP Project awardee, and Ragdale Fellow.
Laura Kina is a Vincent de Paul Professor at The Art School at DePaul University; curator for the Virtual Asian American Art Museum; a co-founder of the Critical Mixed Studies conference, journal, and association; visual art section editor for Bridge; and series editor for The University of Washington Press for the Critical Ethnic Studies and Visual Culture book series. She co-edited War Baby/Love Child: Mixed Race Asian American Art and Queering Contemporary Asian American Art. In addition, she illustrated an award winning children’s book, Okinawan Princess: Da Legend of Hajichi Tattoos. Kina is a 2022-2023 Public Voices Op-Ed Project Fellow through DePaul University.
Riverside Arts Center Freeark Gallery + Sculpture Garden , 32 East Quincy Street, Riverside, Illinois 60546
Gallery Hours: Thursday – Saturday, 1-5pm, Closed Sundays – Wednesdays and major holidays. All of our exhibitions are free and open to the public.
The Riverside Arts Center follows Public Health requirements and guidelines for safety during the Covid- 19 pandemic.
The Riverside Arts Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
The Riverside Arts Center is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency; the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation; and sponsorship from Riverside Township and the Village of Riverside.