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On Painting and a Prayer

Posted on Sep 01, 2018 in Anne Hunter Galleries , Kirsten Koza Reed , September–October 2018

Kirsten Koza Reed uses her artistic talent to express her love of the Emerald Coast. Her exhibit will be shown at Anne Hunter Galleries through the end of the year. Photos by Chris Lowery

In her grief, a local artist finds puropse in painting, exhibit featured at Anne Hunter Galleries By Anne Hunter and Liesel Schmidt

Artist Kirsten Koza Reed has fond memories of the unspoiled beaches and white sands of Northwest Florida from her youth. “I love our beaches, the trees and the natural dune life. I spent many years growing up along the sandy shores of the panhandle, and I’ve watched it change over the years,” says Reed, who once led the public relations efforts for Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort.

The artist’s native roots run deep. Reed calls Nashville home, but her parents live in Niceville, Fla., where they purchased their home in 1979. “I always come back to visit friends and family,” she says. “Much has changed, but I still take in the senses of our beautiful environment — the sound of the waves, the smell of the air and the sight of a lovely sunset against the ever-changing painting from Mother Nature.”

There isn’t simply acrylic layered onto the canvases bearing Reed’s signature; no simple whims guiding her hand as she the moves paint on her palette. Heart, soul, faith, emotions, prayer and benediction are the very essence of all she creates. And, just like Mother Nature, the finished product is often far more than she could have ever imagined. From angels to vibrant bouquets of flowers and serene sunsets, there is emotion at work on Reed’s canvas; and the purpose she feels in creating them is a beautiful thing to behold. It is with biographer Liesel Schmidt that Reed resurrects those emotions to share her story.

Artistic since childhood, Reed’s greatest outlet for her creativity initially took her in a direction that made financial sense. And for most of her adult life, she worked as a freelance writer for marketing firms that could put her talents to use. But when the tragedy of losing her youngest child in 2000 after a short, heart-wrenching 27 months filled with struggle began to seek release through painting, she realized that a once-abandoned passion could become more.

Even with those early grief-filled paintings, however, the loving mother of two didn’t seriously consider turning her hobby into a legitimate career until the market crash in 2008 led to a decided downturn in writing opportunities. Her first show provided the resolve she needed to continue. Hosted by the Mars Corporation at Milky Way Farms in her home state of Tennessee, in the massive horse-stall bearing the name Snickers, the painter learned that what she was doing with palette knife, paint and canvas was more than just an expression of herself — it was truly a gift that could speak to people and touch their hearts.

More than just a method of working through the grief of losing a child, painting is her way of working through all of the emotions she faces in her life as each day unfolds — whether good or bad. “I think that healing is never complete,” she says thoughtfully. “The experience of losing a child is always there. You have moments of real passion and clarity and joy. And then you have those moments of darkness and grief. And I think my art has helped me through all those emotions that life brings by expressing it onto the canvas.”

The Kirsten Koza Reed | MY {ART} STORY exhibition is hosted by Anne Hunter Galleries. Reed’s exhibition will run from Oct. 1-Dec. 31, 2018, at 25 Central Square in Seaside. Ten percent of all sales of Reed’s paintings are contributed to Palette with a Purpose, which donates to children’s non-profits in the local area. For more information, visit annehuntergalleries.com.