Arts and Culture

Reaching Across Nebraska Through Art

Karen Kunc

For artist Karen Kunc, moving to a rural acreage – with its 30-mile commute to her Lincoln studio – created an intimacy with the land and seasons that inspires her artwork.

“I love the graphic nature of our landscape here,” said Kunc, Willa Cather Professor of Art.

Internationally renowned for her abstract woodblock prints, Kunc’s art conveys pride in her Nebraska roots, but also aims to provoke.

“I love the graphic nature of our landscape here.”

“I like the idea that our earth has been shaped by nature, by time, by weather forces and by mankind,” she said. “Of course, when we get to the mankind part, then we’re talking about issues we’re all concerned about.”

Beautiful and edgy in its contrasting shapes and forms, Kunc’s work asks viewers to question how we live in the world and our role in shaping natural forces. It touches deeply personal emotions about often intense, politicized issues.

After 30 years of working with communities worldwide, Kunc now concentrates on expanding artistic appreciation and opportunities in Nebraska, particularly in printmaking.

In 2013, she opened Constellation Studios in Lincoln to attract international print artists, support local artisans and create a collaborative atmosphere important to equipment-heavy printmaking.

She also helps coordinate the university’s Art at Cedar Point Biological Station near Ogallala in western Nebraska. The interdisciplinary program blends art and science through undergraduate field art courses, artist residencies and community outreach. A two-year grant from the University of Nebraska’s Rural Futures Institute helps fund the program.

Kunc is committed to connecting her creative activities with all of Nebraska.

“I think the arts in Nebraska is an untapped resource, but it needs people to support it,” she said. “There are artists everywhere who want to work in their beautiful environment and prove that art belongs there.”

Kunc has won numerous awards for her artwork and teaching, and her art has been exhibited in more than 350 galleries and public collections worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York.