Kristin Beaver “We will proudly point out her success….”
Oil painter Kristin Beaver, a 2000 BFA art alumna of Western Illinois University, is among 18 artists from hundreds of applicants to be awarded in June (2009) an inaugural Kresge Artist Fellowship in the Visual Arts. The 12-month fellowship, which includes an unrestricted $25,000 prize funded by The Kresge Foundation, is the largest award of its type available to individual artists in metropolitan Detroit.
“I was ecstatic about receiving the Kresge Artist Fellowship,” said Kristin, who was born and raised in
Macomb, the daughter of Physical Education Professor Emeritus David Beaver and his wife, Phyllis Beaver.
“This fellowship will allow me to work in the studio more this year. I will be teaching less and focusing more on painting, which is a nice change. It takes the edge off in terms of financial stress, too. I can acquire supplies needed to work hard and produce new work.”
Arts critic Mark Stryker wrote in the June 30 edition of the Detroit Free Press: “The fellowships cut a broad swath through Detroit’s visual artists, from emerging talents like Beaver, who paints energetic figurative portraits of her generation, to widely known veterans like Gordon Newton, 61, whose gritty sculptures helped define the Cass Corridor movement in the early ’70s.”
“These Kresge Artist Fellowships are highly competitive and much sought after by artists,” said Charles Wright, Western Illinois’ art department chair and professor.
Kristin said she had always wanted to be a painter, and as a child she tried to draw people. “It wasn’t until I was enrolled at Western that I really learned how to do both of these things,” she said. “I took a lot of traditional classes focused on the basic fundamentals of art, and I did a lot of observational drawing and painting. My favorite classes were figure drawing and painting. Once I learned how to manipulate paint and document what was in front of me, it allowed me to move on conceptually, using other tools, like the photograph. I’ve always loved photography, so it was a natural progression to create photo-based paintings.
“I am primarily a painter, preferring oil as my medium. My work is photo-based; however, I have never shown my photos. They are like notes or preliminary drawings for the paintings; perhaps sometime in the future I will show them,” she added.
Kristin graduated from Macomb High School a semester early. She did not want to attend Western Illinois just because she was from Macomb, but she took some art classes and “ended up loving it…Western has a great art department.”
“My education at Western would not have been the same without art professors Michael and Julie Mahoney and Jan Clough. They were generous instructors. I not only gained skill from their instruction, but I learned a lot about being an artist, and about life in general,” Kristin said. “They are all great people. I think about them a lot, as I am now an instructor. Obviously, others in the art department had significant impact on my education, too.”
Kristin has won and placed in many exhibitions, including a first in show and a purchase award in the 1999 Annual Juried Student Awards Show at Western Illinois University; second place in the 2000 Sullivan Taylor Annual Fall Juried Student Exhibition, Macomb; and best of show at the 2003 Annual: All Media Exhibition at the Ann Arbor (MI) Art Center. She also received an art and art history travel fellowship (2004) at Wayne State University and a faculty travel grant (2008) at Wayne State.
Kristin is represented by the David Kline Gallery, Birmingham, MI; and her artwork is in the collections of the David Klein Gallery, the Meadow Brook Art Gallery (Rochester, MI) and Western Illinois University’s Art Gallery. She is also the subject of an article in an upcoming issue of the American Art Collector magazine.