Paranormal Artist Profile: Brandon Kuehn
We're very excited to have Brandon Kuehn as this month's featured artist, and in keeping with his long-standing tradition of being awesome, he's written his own blog. So without further ado, we give you Brandon Kuehn.
After being a fine artist (landscape painting primarily) for almost 20 years, I decided to fulfill a life-long dream of getting my Masters of Fine Art. In 2008, I attended Lesley University in Boston and began my MFA program. I remember working long hours into the night and one of my favorite things to do was listen to the late night radio show: Coast to Coast AM. If you aren’t familiar with the show, they cover a wide range of topics from UFO’s and Bigfoot, to alternative medicine and psychic abilities. While continuing to work with landscape, I found myself hiding small UFO’s or ghosts in larger traditional landscape scenes. By the end of graduate school, these anomalies slowly started moving to the foreground. After I graduated, I began researching and reading about paranormal mysteries, ancient history, and unexplained phenomenon and working them into my art.
I continued working on my own, but was wondering if anyone else was working in the liminal space between art and paranormal. I approached several art centers and galleries and no one seemed interested in pursuing this idea. The last place I looked was the Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts in Fridley, MN. This small art center resides in a 150-year old building on the banks of the Mississippi River just north of Minneapolis. After learning that several ghost-hunting teams had investigated the building, I pitched my idea and they were excited to partner with me. In 2014 (and again in 2016), I conceived and curated The Art of Darkness, Inspired by the Paranormal. We sent out a call for art and received over 200 entries from 30 states, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The response was overwhelming.
Coming off the success of the Banfill-Locke Art Show I was inspired to delve into the paranormal in my own back yard. (I just happen to live in Anoka, MN, the “Halloween Capital of the World”). I received an Artist Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board to research and create work about Paranormal stories and mysteries from around the state of Minnesota. I researched ghost ships on Lake Superior, UFOs from old Air Force files, and even a Lake Monster in Lake Pepin. I’m continuing to research and explore these stories and you can follow my blog and see my artwork and research photos at www.paranormalartproject.com.
Going forward, I’m excited to start exploring outside the state of Minnesota. Recently, I took a trip to the tiny town of Rachel, Nevada (pop. 54). It’s home to “The Little A’Lee’Inn” and sits along Nevada’s “Extraterrestrial Highway.” From here I was able to travel to the North gate of the infamous Area 51. This has inspired a new body of work focusing on the iconography of the UFO phenomenon. One thing I have learned about this subject and the paranormal at large is a certain amout of belief is required. The photo is a kind of evidence, therefore worth more than eye-witness testimony or artwork from experiencers. My series of paintings titled I Want to Believe are paintings reproduced from iconic UFO photos, acknowledging the importance of the source material and trying to expose the belief system behind and associated with the phenomenon. This artwork is on display now at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, Minnesota through August 4th, 2017.