Rising Stars
By: Brian Wright | brian@cfp.ky
2011 May 09



Megan Kounnas & Kaitlyn Elphinstone

Cayman has one of the most vibrant art scenes in the Caribbean, with a wealth of unique artists. Yet it is not just established artists who are helping to put the islands on the map. Up and coming artists, most of whom would be unfamiliar to the public, are proving that youth is not a barrier to talent and age is just a number. InsideOut meets Kaitlyn Elphinstone and Megan Kounnas.

Megan Kounnas is a passionate artist. She likes to work in oil paintings and focuses a lot on watercolors. But Megan often uses multiple mediums in the same work. And she is always sharpening her skills, honing her craft to become the best artist she can be.

“I feel like I have changed so much since university, so I feel like I’m going to get better,” Megan says of her art.

A former student at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Megan lived for a while in Argentina, before moving to Cayman after graduation. She aims to eventually move to Chicago, where she wants to work with outreach programmes and continue her art, but for now, Megan is focused on her life and work on the island. The teacher at Cayman International School says her job and her students are a source of constant inspiration.

“My students have actually really inspired me,” she says. “Some people just know how to work the materials that are given to them.”

Megan’s pupils just pick up the paints and go with what they feel. And lately, what they’ve felt is their lives in Cayman.

“It’s interesting to see their worries and how they can show it visually through art. And also in the future, it might not be like this, and if they have stuff that they did when it was like this, it will remind them of how it used to be,” Megan explains. “And I think that’s what a lot of artists do in Cayman. They preserve the natural beauty of it.”

Megan’s art follows a different method of creation – she follows her mood. When she’s happy, she’ll capture her cheerful vision. When she’s feeling blue, her work will reflect that, too. And she tries to have purpose in every piece of art.

“When I teach my students … I always try to make sure that everything they do has something to do with the piece. I don’t always follow those rules myself,” Megan says. “I say there are no rules.”

Without rules, she can soar as an artist. Megan explores her world through art and loves to learn something about herself and others.

Isn’t that what art is about?

It’s about the process for Kaitlyn Elphinstone. As an artist, it often is.

“Some things might come along and a happy mistake will happen,” Kaitlyn says. “But when I do have a set exhibition, I like to have it all tied together with a theme or a concept because it keeps me filed and organised, and it makes it a bit cohesive, the whole work and the ideas.”

Order, containment, pattern, rhythm – those are the words that describe her recent work of colourfully-wrapped sea pods in strings suspended in glass and framed.

Before her latest work, Kaitlyn was studying for her master’s degree in arts policy and management in London. She had previous graduated from the University of Toronto with an undergraduate degree in visual studies. She worked at the National Gallery as an outreach and education coordinator between her years of studying.

As a child, Kaitlyn moved to Cayman and was always surrounded with art – her mother draws and paints and her work is exhibited on island.

“The biggest thing for me was that I could never do anything wrong. Whatever I drew, it looked right to my mum,” Kaitlyn enthuses. “That encouragement of you can never fail, you can do it, gave me the confidence to go on and be creative. To be out there and do whatever I felt like.”

When she was in London, Kaitlyn took a course in screen printing. Based on photographs of red snapper, she created some of her most unique work.

“You take a photographic layer and you paint it over a grid or a screen, and you put a light through an image and it takes onto that screen,” she says. “And you power wash all the stuff and whatever is exposed to light … it’s kind of a process, heavy intensive … then the image comes through.”

Kaitlyn has also designed pins for the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore, in which she used familiar images of Cayman such as sea turtles and tropical fish.

“I’ve also done a lot of scanned images. The idea of setting something up and then moving it around and working with it until it evolves into something else,” she says. “What you’ll see a lot in my work is that I do like the idea of process.”

Kaitlyn enjoys the process and her work speaks for itself. It’s colourful and fun, and clearly resonates with audiences, from Canada to London to Cayman.

(Article from ‘Inside Out Magazine’) http://www.compasscayman.com/insideout/2011/05/09/Rising-Stars/


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