Kaitlyn Tucek has become a strong, proudly female force in the Denver art community. She grew up in Long Island, N.Y., and began her art career at 14 under the mentorship of illustrator Jeffrey K. Fisher. She then attended Pratt Institute, received her master’s from Queens College, and worked in education and at museums including New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art, and Denver’s Denver Art Museum and Clyfford Still. Eventually, after her son was born, she became a full-time artist. “I think all those things really influence my work today,” Tucek says. “There are a million causes, a million things you feel strongly about, but, personally, I think I’m most capable speaking for women.”
What drives your art?
“I think my work is driven by stories and storytelling rather than more formal things like color or composition. I think those things matter, but I think if I’m going to make art, it needs to serve a purpose. Not everyone has to do that. That’s just what feels right for me.”
Would you view yourself as a feminist?
“I definitely consider myself a feminist and for the equality of people in general. I don’t want to just paint selfishly. I don’t want to paint pretty pictures and put them on a wall, but instead maybe use my work to help people. I’m always thinking about how things affect women, how we experience things, and from all my knowledge of history, I think women’s experiences aren’t represented enough. Even if it’s not my experience but it’s another’s, I hope to keep making representations of women’s experiences to normalize them, to make them something that another woman can walk up to and say, ‘I understand that. I relate to that.’ That means something to me.”
What are you currently working on?
“I’ve dealt with experiencing death in my life. I lost my father eight years ago, and recently I lost my grandmother. My daughter was born with heart defects, so things were scary for a while. I think this year when I started researching the artist Artemisia Gentileschi, the idea of death came up a bunch. It started to gnaw at me, it kept floating up to the surface. I’m thinking about how we deal with death, how we grieve as humans, and different cultural practices and especially objects—like memento moris— that start to really take on a story or a whole meaning/personification of somebody. Now I’m initiating portraits of different individuals with these objects.”
Where do you display your art?
Tucek’s work was featured in an exhibition last year at the Leon Gallery and was included in Pink Progression, a group showing in celebration of the Suffragette movement. From June 4 to Aug. 23, the Arvada Center will stage an exhibition of her art.