Kurt Palmquist

Born in: 1965, Helena, Montana, USA

Lives in: USA

Describe your art in three words: Striking, unique, creative

Education: Bachelor of Fine Arts, Montana State University, USA

See More Work:  www.kurtpalmquist.com

Pipe Dream - Wall Sculpture, Acrylic on Wood, 36" x 58" x 3.5

My artwork explores my fascination of the three-dimensional geometric form. Through experimentation, I discover a constant evolution of space defined by simple shapes, color, and composition. Architectural environments provide space and light to create striking compositions of depth and interest.

O-Motion - Wall Sculpture, Acrylic on Wood, 38" x 36" x 4"
What themes does your work involve?
My Sculptures explore my fascination with three-dimensional geometric form inspired by my lifelong passion for design, architecture and light. I strive to find harmony, through the forms I create, how they combine with each other and the color palettes used. They express freedom and movement, while always maintaining a sense of order.​
Describe your creative process.
As I design each sculpture I develop a visual language, that gives each piece it’s character. I start from a sketch and gradually refine each aspect of the composition. It’s a constant evolution that gives me the freedom to explore. The design of the piece is ‘finished’ when the visual language communicates a clear message. When the design is complete, each piece is then fabricated and cut and then I’m able to roughly put the sculpture together. This is my first chance to see how the layers interact with each other and how light and shadow begin to play with the forms. I can then start to make final decisions regarding final color and finishes. Next is the hands on phase where I really get to know the work, sanding, prepping and final finishing.
What influences your work? What inspires you? Why do you make art?
I am influenced by all kinds of art, architecture and graphic design, but what inspires me the most is having the freedom to create whatever I want. It is this freedom that allows me to explore ideas and concepts at a moments notice. I enjoy the creative process even though at times it can be challenging. I am also inspired by my finished work when I have a chance to see it on a wall and how it impacts the space. As much as I love creating art for myself, I really enjoy hearing and watching a viewer experiencing my work. Uncovering intricacies that are not evident at first, and being surprised or struck by what they are seeing is a huge reward.
What is good art? What makes a piece of art great?
There are many aspects of art that can make a piece of art great. There are several for me that stand out. First is that I can look at a piece of art multiple times and each time I take away something I may have not seen or thought of before. This doesn’t mean that the artwork has to have some deep intellectual theme or is really complicated. Some of my favorite artists create work that is very simple. But it’s within the simplicity that I find the beauty. Second is craftsmanship. I really appreciate art from an artist who has attained a certain level of mastery and understands their medium. I know they have put endless hours in to developing their technique. You can see the fruits of their labor when you look at their body of work and can see how they are able to push themselves.
What is the role of the artist today?
For me personally, art has been therapeutic, it has given my creativity a place to go where its not hindered by the outside world. It’s easy for me to lose myself in my work and come out of it fulfilled and refreshed. It is really gratifying for me to see the finished piece and be proud of what I have accomplished. I am a much better person for it. From a bigger picture, I think society feeds off the creative energy of art and inspires us in our personal and professional lives. Some art challenges us to see things differently while others are for pure enjoyment and happiness. In either case it provides an escape where the viewer steps into a world where they are transformed.
Arc Traverse - Wall Sculpture, Acrylic on Wood, 45" x 38" x 3.5"
Strata - Wall Sculpture, Acrylic on Wood, 27" x 43" x 4"
Flourish - Wall Sculpture, Acrylic on Wood, 33" x 32" x 3.5"
Quirky - Wall Sculpture, Acrylic on Wood, 45" x 46" x 3.5"
Metro Ritz - Wall Sculpture, Acrylic on Wood, 46" x 33" x 3.5"
Circ Divide - Wall Sculpture, Oil Stain on Birch, 40" x 38" x 3.5"
Chroma Remix - Wall Sculpture, Acrylic on Wood, 42" x 36" x 3.5"
Split Swoop - Wall Sculpture, Acrylic on Wood, 44" x 45" x 3.5"


This interview was published by Circle Foundation of the Arts. © CFA Press ∙ Images are courtesy of the artist

Mozhdeh Zandieh-Grayson

Born in: Tehran, Iran

Lives in: Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Describe your art in three words: present, poetical, noiseless

Education: Postgraduate MFA, UCA (University for Creative Arts), UK (2020)
BA in Graphic Design, Sooreh Art University of Tehran, Iran (2001)
BA in Visual Arts and Architecture at the School of Arts, Tehran, Iran, (1995)

See More Work:  https://www.mozhdeh.art/

The Matter of If (Green) - Mixed media relief sculpture 80 x 80 x 17 cm

Art is my shortcut for the closeness of thinking by making. When I make art, I don't think about art but think about us—humans. 'We' are the foundation of my making in the notion of outside and inside. From that perspective, my works reflect on our human existence concerning problematic social and individual subjects in a confrontation of existential dichotomies—exploring actuality versus reality.

What themes does your work involve?
The heart of my concept and primary point of reference is the human mind. I am preoccupied with the philosophy of today's life and the phenomenon of the world of lingual-ism in vital and critical states. Through art, I've always tried to understand and expose the inside, the feeling, perception, forces and struggles (with self and surrounding) that we do not necessarily see yet think otherwise. One of the biggest problems from this century, which in some means we all might confront, is the prevalence of noises over voices (in missing the tactility and quietness). My works institute a fine line between these two and try to portray the human being within this exploration and narration. ​
Describe your creative process.
In the making process, I'm intrigued by the invention of forms and the material's manifestation and imagery which click with my concepts and directly reflect on my visual language. I choose how to execute my ideas based on what do the best for what I want to convey. Therefore I have never limited myself to mediums or materials. Hence, my research and study encompass two-aspect conception (in response to what) and formation (in answer to how) often overlapping conventional artistic mediums; mixed media, sculpture, installation, drawing, painting, photography and digital art. Within that sense, my works are partly exploratory and partially experimental. So many tests and trials are involved at the studio to find the most satisfactory material and the best medium to run my ideas and feelings.
What influences your work? What inspires you? Why do you make art?
The shortest answer is the people. My inspiration comes from today's life and gaps, things which only art can define, modify or preserve. One day I was reading a book about Marcel Duchamp and the term Infra-thin that he coined, the notion of infra-thin inspired me. When he asked for the term's definition, he replied that the notion is impossible to define "one can only give examples of it: the warmth of a seat (which has just been left)" is infra-thin. Art is a gap that represents the difference between intention and realisation. What art is, in reality, is this missing link, not the links which exist. I grew up during the war. As a child, my life shaped between red and white alerts in the gap between bunkers and classrooms. Infra-thin is somehow rooted in me and finds its way into my art.
What is good art? What makes a piece of art great?
I firmly believe there is no such thing as good art or bad art. Art is art. Art is the only thing that makes life better than art on all levels. Art is a must, a definite need for our improvement, connection, and communication in both individual and collective aspects. But I'm sure there is a level in art, not in the meaning of bad or good but about having and being for different audiences, viewers, observers or in general for a distinct purpose. And I think what makes a piece of art 'great' is if it touch, embraces and or changes one's heart or mind, then we have a definition for 'a great art' in its (own) narration.
What is the role of the artist today?
That is a good question. In generalisation, I think the role of today's artists is related to multiple factors, such as artist possibilities, intention, personalities, perception and many other elements that can be complex to line a circle around a solid description of the artist's role. Personally speaking, I think it's essential that artists don't leave themselves behind. I feel being an artist means being aware in all means in its contemporary sense. Artists should be present, live the today with the knowledge of the past and an eye for the future, be representative and project a world to the world. Being an artist doesn't mean just producing art but thinking artistically, and thinking that way means live above and beyond, somewhere between the lines.


This interview was published by Circle Foundation of the Arts. © CFA Press ∙ Images are courtesy of the artist

Victor Montague

Born in: Washington D.C.

Lives in: Washington D.C.

Describe your art in three words: Distinct, timeless, progressive

Education: H.S Diploma

See More Work:  www.VictorMontague.com

The Haitian Migration of 2021 - Oil on canvas 30 x 40 in.

Victor Montague is a self-taught artist, born and raised in the nation’s capital, Washington, DC. Specializing in realism and figurative painting, he uses oil paint to convey his message. Growing up rooted in a community filled with the riches of black culture came with both its benefits and challenges while simultaneously trying to cope with growing into manhood being black in America.

What themes does your work involve?
My themes involve many subject matters driven from my current mood or feelings derived from the unique black experience.
Describe your creative process.
As an art teacher and parent of two, I tend to look at my creative process as very versatile. During the day I fully take advantage of off days and synchronized nap times to get some painting done. However, my true creativity comes alive during the Late night hours between (9pm-3am) and I try to devote this art and meditation time at least 5 days a week.
What influences your work? What inspires you? Why do you make art?
To me art has remained a reflection time continuously throughout my life. It’s a time when the world’s chaos doesn’t matter and the only thing that can penetrate my mind is my own thoughts. I can’t tell you the amount of things I have taught myself (art and non-art related) just by being deeply in tuned with my work, but the lessons continue to come. As cliche as it sounds, Art is a lifestyle and honestly I feel the more you genuinely indulge in it while remaining open to constant learning, it will continue to inspire you. I make art because we as humans are natural creators and destroyers and it gives me the opportunity to make my natural instincts as a creator to better this world In my short time here.
What is good art? What makes a piece of art great?
Im not too sure as an honest answer. I think the most important part of painting is a) how it makes the creator feel (before/during/upon completion) b) what conversations and feelings it conveys upon its viewers. To me the degree or caliber of the work is a non-factor.
What is the role of the artist today?
The role of the artist today remains what I think it always has. We are just constantly evolving as society does. I think that the role of the artist is to convey ideas to and for others that may not be able to in the way that your artistic expression can. The same way musicians give voices to those that are not able to melodically describe those same shared feelings Art can visually do the same thing and bring new ideas/ contradictions/ concurring opinions and so much more. So as an artist I think it is very important to be socially aware and constantly questioning your environment.
A Peace of Mind, with My Piece in Mind - Oil on canvas 16 x 20 in.
Chaotic Needs To An Organized Mind - Oil on canvas 16 x 20 in.
COVID: Party of Ten - Oil on canvas 36 x 48 in.
The Starting 5 - Oil on canvas 30 x 40 in.


This interview was published by Circle Foundation of the Arts. © CFA Press ∙ Images are courtesy of the artist

Jill Krasner

Born Brooklyn, New York, USA

Lives in: Sarasota, Florida, USA

Describe your art in three words: Whimsical. Colorful. Eccentric.

Education: BA, Douglas College

See More Work:  www.jillkrasnergallery.com

Pink Hotel - Mixed media on canvas 60 x 60 in.

"The process of making art is my anchor. Creating keeps me grounded in the moment. There is no past in my studio, no future. There is just now — and now is where I belong, where I do my best work. My studio is just minutes from my home. Sunlight streams in through a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows and bounces off several work tables filled with works in various stages of completion."

What themes does your work involve?
Whimsy is the underlying theme of most of my work. I tend to view the world around me through a lens tinted with humor, which helps me process even the most stressful events. I like to see my viewers smile as they explore the details of my painting. I hope they enjoy the art as much as I enjoyed creating it.
Describe your creative process.
I like to work in a series, often working on three, four or five canvases at once. There are many ways to tell a story and I want to try expressing them all. Each painting consists of many layers. Often, the first layer is collage. Then, a layer of paint. Next, sanding, scraping back, adding more paint and collage. Eventually, details start to emerge. Although I usually know what I am planning to paint — a floral, a landscape, a tropical — the details, the composition, the story! — doesn’t reveal itself until later in the process.
What influences your work? What inspires you? Why do you make art?
Color and texture and the way they interact inspires me. For me, a successful painting combines many different, often conflicting, elements, layer upon layer; revealing when completed, a tale well told.
What is good art? What makes a piece of art great?
Good art, in my opinion, engages the viewer completely, allowing them to interpret a narrative uniquely their own.
What is the role of the artist today?
I am an artist because that is what I am, what I have always been. Making art is my way of communicating.


This interview was published by Circle Foundation of the Arts. © CFA Press ∙ Images are courtesy of the artist

Michele Benzamin-Miki

Born 1955

Lives in: Warner Springs, California, USA

Describe your art in three words: Elevating Provocative Catalyzing

Education: Self-taught artist

See More Work:  https://michelebenzaminmiki.com/

Elevation - Sumi ink and Graphite pencil on paper 39 x 63 in.

There is power in being seen, not just by others, but in seeing oneself. My art is inspired by a life time of work as a teacher, of Zen meditation, non-violent martial arts of Aikido, Japanese sword forms of Iaido, Hypnosis and other skills and healing modalities: this spiritually integrative work informs and becomes a strong part of my art. My art integrates Abstract and Realism.

What themes does your work involve?
There is a spiritually uplifting theme that runs through my art, as in my process. That isn’t to say I bypass themes of suffering, they are just elevated. I draw on my own experience of the feminine and portray woman in their strength and vulnerability (which are non-opposing). I draw on my dreams, nighttime are the most inspiring, as they bring what is unconscious to light. Many series of work have come from my dream work.
Describe your creative process.
The brush work comes out of a ‘point zero’ inner stillness, or expansive awareness in meditating before or while producing a piece. Regardless if I paint one stroke or many, the strokes are connected in one continuous energetic movement using a large brush on paper or canvas with Japanese ink. I want to make visible the inner world. The intention is to evoke and invite the viewer to access a whole body state of being present, in the presence of the art. The principle of 'Ma' in Japanese calligraphy and brushwork, considers the space around the brush strokes as important as the brush strokes, creating ‘space’ inside your audience. Sometimes I come back into a piece, adding details, drawing in pencil or other media. I integrate figurative work into these energetic strokes.
What influences your work? What inspires you? Why do you make art?
You could say I am an animist; I choose to believe everything is alive and has a consciousness, therefore everything is connected, and everything matters. My life is about making connections, especially with the brush, ink, pencil, and.paper, and my practices and disciplines polish the inner lenses in which I perceive the world, and translate this onto paper or canvas. The very act of creating inspires me, because it engages my senses, and awareness. I make art because I can. I make art because it is an effective method to spread inner peace and resources, countering the effects of focusing only on ‘negative messages’ in these times, to a more well rounded view of, what is possible now, and for the times ahead.
What is good art? What makes a piece of art great?
Good art evokes strong feelings, provokes thinking, opens the senses. What makes a piece of art great is the ability of the artist to transmit what they see and feel about their subject, effecting the viewer to look straight into the world of the artist, Great art is a transmutation, transcending conventional communication.
What is the role of the artist today?
The role of the artist today is to make good art, great art. The role of the artist today Is to bring art back to the raw intensity of the sacred. The role of the artist today is to catalyze renewal in the individuals and for the society as a whole, by remaining faithful to their spirit.
Light Force
Illuminated Woman


This interview was published by Circle Foundation of the Arts. © CFA Press ∙ Images are courtesy of the artist

Nathan Miller

Born 1980, Tampa, Florida, USA

Lives in: Covington, Georgia, USA

Describe your art in three words: Harmony, Conservation, Coexistence

Education: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from the University of Florida

See More Work:  https://nathanmiller.gallery | Instagram@nathanmillerfineart

Remembrance of a Lost Legend - Acrylic on board 24 x 36 in.

"I am an imaginative realist painter of both wildlife and people. I use acrylic paints and primarily prefer working with smooth surfaces like gesso board so that every detail is visible. My work explores elements of design, symmetry, symbolism, and concepts dealing with our relationship with other species."

What themes does your work involve?
Today I am working on a new series that explores wild animals and indigenous human cultures from around the world. And while this series considers the stories, traditions and challenges that surround wildlife, it also emphasizes the need to protect and coexist with wildlife. This series celebrates both animals in the wild and indigenous cultures. Despite the history of conflict, as human populations increase and wildlife populations decrease, there will need to be a shift toward coexistence.
Describe your creative process.
When I begin a painting, I first do a significant amount of research on a topic. I learn more about the culture or species that I am depicting in my work. I create a digital mockup with many photos until I have a layout that I like. Once the mockup is complete, I begin sketching it out on gesso board. And only then, once the layout is ready, do I begin to paint. The painting can take many hours, weeks, and sometimes even months, to complete. It's a very meticulous process. Even when the painting is complete, the process continues with varnishing the art, preparing it for print and, finally, choosing the frame.
What influences your work? What inspires you? Why do you make art?
Humanity has been disconnected from the natural world for far too long. This outer and inner disconnection from nature is causing the world around us to fall apart. While we distract ourselves with our own pursuits, and as we place ourselves above all else, ecosystems disappear. Somehow, we must find a way to reconnect with the natural world, to appreciate the value of wildlife, and see ourselves as a part of the ecosystem. I find value in all emotional life, and I enjoy depicting that life in different scenarios. In fact, I’m particularly interested in stories that pertain to both animals and people.
I hope my work can, in some small way, help others value nature, animals, and the impact of narrative realism in art.
What is good art? What makes a piece of art great?
I think art fell from grace in the 20th century. It was a period of rebellion from standards that took centuries to perfect. Wall accents were given more glory than thought provoking, masterful creations of genius and wonder. The juvenile and ridiculous were valued more than the beautiful and skillful. Today, fortunately, great art, I believe, is making a comeback. So, what is great art? I think great art is the art that requires time, practice, and energy to perfect. It's the art that is considered masterful, not because of a propped-up name due to gimmicks and fame, but because of standards of design, composition, color, light, dark, shape, and the nature of creativity, meaning, and thought-provoking emotion. Good art has elements of this. Great art has all of it.
What is the role of the artist today?
I can't say what the role of every artist is, because every artist has their own story and their own purpose. But I can say that one thing artists have in common is the desire to speak their truth through their art. Artists simply wish to create - to share what is in them or, perhaps, what comes through them. The challenge today is how much of an artist's work is genuine, and how much is a response to what's marketable. I don't fault artists for attempting to find a balance between the two. If art is a career choice, then it's important for the art to be marketable. The trick is to find a way to speak authentically through one's art in a way that resonates with a particular audience.
(Nathan Miller) Voice of Nature - Acrylic on panel 24 x 30 in.
Forest Dream - Acrylic on canvas 36 x 36 in.
The Tale of Waghoba - Acrylic on board 24 x 36 in.
Legend of the Jaguar Shaman - Acrylic on board 24 x 36 in.


This interview was published by Circle Foundation of the Arts. © CFA Press ∙ Images are courtesy of the artist