Art Connects People

Photography, Art, and Sharing by Kim Zahnow

Welcome. My name is Kim Zahnow. Thank you for being here and taking the time to learn more about me. I am a creator. I will throw myself into any art medium and start creating. It is as natural to me to create as it is to breathe. I happen to specialize in photography and encaustic painting. I have been a professional photographer and encaustic artist for 25 years. Photography and painting help me visually reveal to others the greatness that I see inside of them and the greatness that I experience in the world. This picture is my favorite recent picture of myself because it captures the joy that I experience traveling, meeting new people, and photographing. (photo by Michelle Fish)

I was introduced to art by watching my grandmother create as a kindergarten teacher, artist, and seamstress. I loved helping her and the feeling of being included as she created. She made art a special place for me. This is a picture of artwork from my 3rd grade art class. When I was in elementary school we took a class field trip to the Indianapolis Museum of Art. I felt connected and alive that day. I remember starring out the bus window and thinking I want to be an artist when I grew up.

My mother was in a professional symphony orchestra. As a child I spent countless hours in concert halls listening to rehearsals and performances. Art was how I entertained myself. Pictured here is the back of a program. I would listen to the music and allow myself to freely interpret the music through my art.

I struggled in school. I was misunderstood, alone, and out of place. In 6th grade I was accepted into a “gifted and talented” school for fine arts. This school was a lifeline for me. I was in a new environment where being an artist was embraced. Art continued to be my way of expressing myself and connecting with the world. Sketching, painting, pottery, photography, glass blowing, and more. I want to get my hands dirty and create.

Pictured here is a portrait in charcoal that created in school. There is just something about Albert Einstein that I have always loved.

My first career was in social services. I had a variety of positions over the years. I worked as a play therapist with abused children, lived and worked full time in a youth facility for teens, worked as a live in social worker in a homeless shelter for women and children. Over time, I became exhausted, discouraged, and burned out. I decided to go back to college for photography and pursue my first love, being an artist. As I think back over the years in social work, art was with me. I photographed and created with people. I remember a mothers day that I photographed portraits of the women and children in the homeless shelter. The mothers expressed to me that these were the only pictures they ever had of themselves and their children. This got to me. I painted happy wall murals in gloomy places and spent time creating art with children and youth. I love that I can use art in helping people on their journey.

As a single mom, I went back to college, balanced school, work, and kids. I am not sure that I slept in those years. After I graduated I opened a portrait studio and began photographing everything. My passion and drive to produce quality work made the variety of opportunities a space to improve. Focusing on one area was not going to put food on the table in these years. I have photographed birth, life, and last days. Every genre of photography I have thrown myself into learning. I appreciate this time because I wanted to give my best so I worked hard to learn lighting and the technical aspects of photography. These years helped to shape me into the photographer I am today.

Pictured here are my three kids when they were young. Seems like yesterday! They are grown now and on their own.

In 2015 I listened to my heart and opened a studio in Saugatuck, Michigan. This was a special moment for me because I was fully listening to my own desire and starting a new journey. Saugatuck has allowed me to grow as an artist and see myself as an artist. I have met and photographed incredible people and places.

J.Petter Gallery in Saugatuck, Michigan is a stunning fine art and wine gallery. I will not forget the day the curator walked into my studio and offered to sign me as an artist. I was humbled and so excited.

Pictured here is my work displayed at the gallery.

This is the day I photographed Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. The opportunity came to me as my friend and photographer called sharing that she had just broken her arm the morning of this event. I quickly got my gear together and headed to the event. It was an honor to be in the space photographing.

2019 was the year I found my love for photographing rock concerts, had all access to photograph Forbes 30 and Under Summit, and began traveling the world for a coffee project. Then….the pandemic paused these opportunities. I used this pause to connect to my story, create more encaustic paintings, and learn about NFTs.

My travels started back up in August 2021 with Chiapas, Mexico. This trip covered coffee farms, an incredible orphanage, and communities.

Pictured here I am crossing a bridge the farmer built to get to his farm. I was told the handle hand been recently installed. (Phew)

After this trip, we paused again for 6 months navigating covid and wars. I start again in March 2022. My list 2022 includes Africa, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Vietnam

Pictured is one of my encaustic paintings. I felt particularly connected to this painting. I realized after I was finished that it was a good representation of my journey. I wanted to walk away from it many times but I kept persevering. Layer after layer the beauty emerged. I create in every moment and will continue to do so the rest of my life. I look forward to see what is next.

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