Karina Kalvaitis imagines animals. She makes them visible in her graphite drawings and in mixed media soft sculptures. These strange animal-like forms are familiar yet odd. Through a sort of distorted anthropomorphism her drawings and sculptures explore mental states and emotions. With a hunched back or slight frown a strange looking animal can suggest all sorts of emotions and social situations. Through her explorations of posture, gesture and facial expressions these animals can became stand-ins for people. As she explains, often her artwork conveys “a sense of emotional truth that we humans sometimes try to hide”.
Despite their weirdness, weakness or vulnerability the animals are appealing and loveable. They tend to have a certain sense of hopefulness and willingness to carry on despite difficulties.
In one way the work is very accessible and appealing, yet deeper down in is about more complex issues of rejection, struggle and what makes someone or something worthy.
Always interested in physically crafting work with a variety of materials, Karina majored in sculpture at the Alberta College of Art and Design, and later studied theatre prop building at the Banff Centre in Alberta.
Karina has lived in Victoria since 1996 and works as an artist full-time. Her studio is in the eclectic Rock Bay Square building near downtown Victoria.