Andrea Kowch's work could be described as the creative legacy of Andrew Wyeth and Alfred Hitchcock. Her haunting rural settings mask mysterious backstories. But Kowch has invented her own brand of powerful, moody symbolism with enigmatic, unfathomable characters, a rich autumnal color palette, and tense, mysterious scenes. “It's almost like characters on a stage,” she said. “So each image is a story that I just want people to delve into and explore.”
Inspired by the sweeping Midwestern American landscapes and architecture of her home state of Michigan, Kowch's work reflects Northern Renaissance and American art influences. The carefully composed paintings achieve a three-dimensional quality that draws viewers into the action.
Kowch's paintings feature up to four friends who model for her allegorial scenes using the palette and metaphors of the seasons and weather of her beloved Michigan. The women's inscrutable expressions hide their true emotions, while their windswept hair hints at feelings that might be surging underneath a controlled exterior.
Domestic and wild inhabitants vie for attention: Dogs, chickens, rabbits, quails, moths, water fowl, and other animals-many with historical allegorical meanings-coexist with the women. The haunting, dreamlike scenarios evoke both melancholy and nostalgia, giving the work an ambiguous and suspenseful edge.
“The lonely, desolate American landscape encompassing the paintings' subjects serves as an exploration of nature's sacredness and a reflection of the human soul, symbolizing all things powerful, fragile, and eternal,” Kowch wrote in her artist statement.
Born in Detroit, Michigan in 1986, Kowch graduated summa cum laude from the College for Creative Studies in 2009 with a BFA in illustration. Beginning with the prestigious Scholastic Art Awards and the National Young Arts Foundation (formerly the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts) in her early adulthood, her work has been honored and recognized at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., New York City's Diane von Furstenberg Gallery, and the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse in Miami, Florida. Kowch has since gone on to receive best of show awards in various juried exhibitions of regional, national, and international caliber, and has exhibited at museums and galleries, including solo exhibitions at the Muskegon Museum of Art, the Richard J. Demato Fine Arts Gallery in Sag Harbor, New York (which exclusively represents her work), Grand Rapids Art Museum in Michigan, ArtPrize, Art Basel Miami, the Los Angeles Art Show, ArtHamptons, and SCOPE New York, which selected Kowch as one of the top one hundred emerging artists in the world in 2012. She has also been featured in and graced the front covers of several publications, including Spectrum, Direct Art, American Art Collector, Revue, and Southwest Art. Kowch's work can be found in many significant private collections worldwide and in public collections, including the Muskegon Museum of Art in Michigan, Grand Rapids Art Museum, Northbrook Library in Illinois, and the Brooklyn Art Library in New York. Kowch resides and works in Michigan as a full-time painter and adjunct instructor at the College for Creative Studies.
Image courtesy of Thomas Hager.