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Artist of the Week: Mya Kerner

Seattle might be notorious for niche coffee shops and scenic waterways, but locals know it's also home to an array of people who love to create. This city is chock-full of artists and we want to showcase their work on Seattle Refined! If you have a local artist in mind that you would like to see featured, let us know at And if you're wondering just what constitutes art, that's the beauty of it; it's up to you!

This week we're featuring an artist who was nominated to us by another artist! This tells us several things: 1) Mya is extremely talented, and not just us common folks think so - artists too!, and B) we love the art community here. Mya's drawings and writings the a story of the precarious world we live in, marked by geological disruptions, moments and parts within the landscape. These moments of vulnerability allow her to see a segmented image of the whole - and then parlay that on to us.

My studies in permaculture reveal a new way of perception. I notice geological disruptions, moments and parts within the landscape; together, these notes present a segmented image of the whole. When I look out to the mountains, I see scratched lines breaking through the slopes, while flecks of white dapple on eroded surfaces, recalling cooler seasons. Light moves across planes, marking time with stretched and shortened shadows and form denotes the flow of water through rocky slopes. I record by drawing and writing in attempt to capture these moments of vulnerability, leaving the rest in the haze of lost memories. My concern about humanity's precarious situation drives my exploration of the intricacies of landscape and the potential for balance through material studies.

Seattle Refined: How long have you been creating? Do you work with other mediums?
Mya Kerner: I have always created, but, I will say my formal training began when I was 17, and I worked 20 hours a week, painting one-on-one with a mentor. She shaped my understanding of capturing the essence of my subject. After that, I attended the Maryland Institute College of Art, which was wonderful, and I have never taken a break from creating since. I consciously chose a college which encouraged a multi-disciplinary curriculum, because I tend to want to do everything, and, even so, I switched majors several times. My degree is in interdisciplinary sculpture with a minor in environmental design, but I enjoy working in many media. Currently, I am focusing on oil painting and drawing.

Can you tell us about your artistic process and how the different stages work into it?
My process typically begins with writing. I find writing to be my most liberating practice as I let words flow and form into concepts. Field work is important to me, as well. I go out into the landscape, take notes, harvest texture by sketching, and gather souvenirs from different locations. Once I have formed a concept and collected references, I return to the studio and work to translate that experience.

Tell us about where your inspiration for your art come from?
My rhetoric emerges from my studies in permaculture and my view of humans as the stewards of the earth. When I look to the mountains I notice geological disruptions, moments and parts within the landscape; together, these notes present a segmented image of the whole. I see scratched lines breaking through the slopes, denoting the vulnerability and instability of a terrain continuously shifting in the crust. The human is seemingly absent or, at least, insignificant. Tiny homes speckle the foothills, while mountains rise like giants to the sky. While here, I am in awe of the sublime in its majesty and frightening unpredictability. In my work, I reflect upon humanity’s precarious relationship with nature as I examine the ecological and aesthetic impact of place.

Do you have a specific “beat” you like best – nature, food, profiles etc?
Right now? Landscapes and the sublime.

Do you have one piece of art that means more to you, or is extremely special to you?
Definitely. Several of my sculptures hold vivid memories for me. The process of casting metal is a powerful experience, and I feel that when I look at those pieces. My favorite sculpture and my favorite painting have both sold, but I love the places that they hang in Seattle, so I’m not too beat up about it.

What experiences in your life have affected your art the most?
Everything! But I see the crucial turning points in my career to be: gaining an art mentor (2006), taking a painting class in Italy (2010), my internship at Sculpture Trails Outdoor Museum (2012), my residency at Sloss Furnaces (2013-14), moving to Seattle (2014), and completing my permaculture program at Bastyr University (2016).

If we want to see more of your work where should we go to find?
Online, my work can be found on my website: and on Instagram: @mya_kerner_art. I occasionally have work up around the city, and I list those events and exhibitions on my website. Michelle Dirkse Interior Design in Capitol Hill usually has several of my paintings and sculptures on view. Finally, I have a home studio and welcome studio visits by appointment.

What is next for you? Anything you’re working on right now that you’re really excited about?
Oh, I have a few exciting things in the works, but not ready to share just yet!

Lastly, how do you take your coffee?
Black, preferably in a thoughtfully-made mug.