In CVA Lecture, Kevin Umaña hopes to impart sense of inspiration, optimism


Kevin Umaña will speak as part of Chautauqua Visual Arts Lecture Series at 6 p.m. tonight in Hultquist Center.

His lecture will address his artistic practice and creative process. It is the second lecture in this summer’s CVA series, and the first given by a faculty member of the School of Art this season. He hopes that Chautauquans will take away a renewed sense of inspiration and optimism toward their own respective passions, whatever they may be.

“I want – just how a movie or an album can really awaken something in peoples’ spirits and inside of them – I want people to leave my lecture inspired and have this sort of lust for life. I want their view on the world to change,” said Umaña. “I want them to leave hopeful and optimistic toward whatever they want to pursue.”

Born in Los Angeles, Umaña received a BFA in printmaking from San Diego State University in 2014 and is currently artist-in-residence at the Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program.

In addition to his artistic practice, Umaña founded The Ekru Project, an artist-run collective and gallery that primarily works with contemporary emerging artists, frequently from underrepresented groups based in Kansas City, Missouri.

Umaña’s work — signified by its heavily abstracted color blockings and bold, pigmented tones — explores and interrogates color. Clear linework is established in his pieces through figurative and physical alterations to the surface, but colors are still free to bleed and overlap, often balancing stark contrasts with more subtle transitions as Umaña examines the myriad possible relationships and combinations of color.

Born out of a desire to communicate himself visually instead of verbally, the result of Umaña’s process is captivating and dynamic — refreshing and expansive — asking the viewer to engage with the piece and its surprising subtleties.

Umaña’s pieces make use of a wide breadth of materials. Oil, acrylic and vinyl paint appear frequently through his work as do glazes and underglazes on ceramics, demonstrating a true focus on color and its many forms and relationships across and throughout different mediums.

“It’s my abstract vocabulary that I accumulated over time by practicing different mediums and then taking little bits from those mediums and then implementing that into my own language,” he said.

As a faculty member, Umaña hopes to instill new ways of thinking in students. He says he will focus on teaching skills at a foundational level and approach them in a way that encourages students to think outside of the box. 

“The best I can do is show them my perspective and then they can either decide to investigate that or not,” Umaña said.

Tags : Chautauqua Visual ArtsChautauqua Visual Arts Lecture SeriesCVAKansas CityKevin UmañaMissouriSan Diego State UniversitySharpe-Walentas Studio ProgramThe Ekru Project

The author Julia Weber

Julia Weber is a rising junior in Ohio University’s Honors Tutorial College where she is majoring in journalism and minoring in art history. Originally from Athens, Ohio, this is her first summer in Chautauqua and she is thrilled to cover the theater and dance performances. She serves as the features editor for Ohio University’s All-Campus Radio Network, a student-run radio station and media hub, and she is a former intern for Pittsburgh Magazine. Outside of her professional life, Julia has a newly adopted cat, Griffin, and she is an avid fan of live music and a dedicated ceramicist.