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About Jan Kern

Jan Kern makes collaged paintings striking for their dramatic color interplay, strong design, and rich mix of global influences.  Her bold rhythmic abstractions are inspired equally by modern abstract painting and by the work of artists from across the ages who constructed with color using materials as varied as paint, clay, stone, wood, feathers, fiber, and beads.

Using a process she has developed over many years, Kern brings together the call-and-response spontaneity of collage with the permanence and vibrancy of painting.

Kern builds her pieces out of strips of canvas that she has painted and cut up. But that is the final step. Each piece begins with days, weeks, or months of playful composing that starts when some visual element, such as a graphic clothing tag or a zebra-striped scarf, has caught her attention and invited her to engage.  The act of juxtaposing is what fuels her ideas.

As a child, Kern knew she wanted to be an artist. That desire was rekindled while living in Bologna, Italy, as a college student. After earning a Bachelors Degree in Political Science, she studied for six years at night at the Corcoran School of Art.

Kern’s work has been in nearly forty group exhibitions; many of them juried by curators from major art institutions, including: the National Gallery of Art, Museum of Modern Art, Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Phillips Collection, Renwick Gallery, and National Museum of Women in the Arts.  Kern has had three solo shows.


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