Kwanza Humphrey has been painting for over 25 years. A lifelong resident of Kansas City, Humphrey calls his artistic process a “human centered design approach.” Through his portraits, Humphrey scratches below the surface to show the essence and emotion of humanity. As he states about his creative process: “Painting is an emotional experience for me, so much so that it’s hard to put into words the way I work. Sometimes I have a conversation with myself and shape a feeling. Other times I just let go and let my subconscious take over where color and brush are the medium I use to communicate.”
Introduce yourself and describe your work and the genre you work in.
I've been painting and making art for as long as I remember. I started drawing very early, around 2-3, and have been painting since about 1996. I'm always trying to learn something new and hone my craft. I paint figure's and portraits mostly in a painterly style to show how I paint rather than just what I paint.
Talk about the work on view. What would you like people to know about it?
You will find a collection of drawings and paintings. Drawing is my first love. Each painting starts as a study for me. I use pencil and paper to figure out tone and composition before I commit it to canvas.
What’s the most challenging thing about your creative process?
Time and energy are the most challenging. I have a day job that pay's the bills and its hard to find time after working all day to commit to the studio. Once I'm painting thought, 9 times out of 10 the art gives me energy.
What is about people and the human form that you find so captivating?
We're all very different, but we have very familiar experiences in our life. Though look different we all experience human emotions and can recognize those feelings in each other. In that way I think we are more alike than different.
What do you wish to convey when working on a portrait of someone?
I try to capture the essence of that person. I think in general we guard ourselves and where mask's. When I paint people I try to move past that and show some of the emotions we all feel.
What are your book/music/movie recommendations for checkout from the library? Why?
I would recommend any of the books by Malcolm Gladwell. He offers insightful perspective on the human condition in various aspects that can help you understand the world we live in or at least look at it differently.
Also, could you provide a paragraph or so for an artist statement?
I have been painting for over 25 years. I grew up here in Kansas City, graduating high school from Lincoln Academy. It was there I was encouraged to pursue art as a profession from Ms Claire Martin-West. I attended Missouri Western State University where I took several painting classes from Jack Hughes. His approach was very hands off unless you were really needing help. I appreciated his approach as it allowed me to develop my own voice. I graduated from there in ‘98 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Commercial Art with an emphasis in painting and illustration. My first exhibition was at the Albrecht Kemper membership show in ’96 where I won best of show for my painting “Blue Funk.” My painting “Ms Flora” won an award in the 35th Annual River market Regional Exhibition, curated by Mr Curlee Ravon Holton, Executive Director, David C. Driskell Center.