Knox College alumna Gaia Nardie-Warner ’08 is currently showcasing some of her artwork at The Box located at Simmons and Kellogg St. in Galesburg. There is no admission charge and the exhibit is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 1-5 p.m. until Oct. 7.
Nardie-Warner graduated from Knox with a B.A. in painting and a minor in art history. She went on to a post-baccalaureate program at Brandeis University following her graduation from Knox.
“I painted there so I could build a portfolio so I could apply to grad school,” Nardie-Warner said. Her most recent degree is a Master of Fine Arts from Boston University.
She is currently living in Iowa City, Iowa where she hopes to perfect her style. “I’m excited about being away from a fast-paced living environment. It will allow me to find my own voice,” Nardie-Warner said. She hopes to move to New York the following year.
Compared to her usual 6-7 foot tall works, Nardie-Warner’s paintings displayed at The Box are much smaller. “There’s something about wanting to work more intimately with something that’s smaller and can fit in my hand versus something that takes over my whole body,” she said.
Most of her pieces at The Box feature abstract female forms within layers of brush strokes. She explained that through these strokes she seeks to reveal a personality by “making the process an analogy of [her] thought process.”
“I’m thinking about the idea of how identity develops,” Nardie-Warner said. “I’m looking to make my painting process a way of finding an identity.” She elaborates on this idea in her artist’s statement (available at The Box), which reads, “I want the people in my paintings to be participating in the process of becoming, changing and weighing identities.”
Her main inspirations are abstraction and the female figure. “I’m interested in the female nude throughout history,” Nardie-Warner said. “Also what we wear and how the things we wear have evolved throughout history.” She finds inspiration anywhere from female superheroes to other cultures to fashion magazines.
Nardie-Warner speaks highly of her experience with the Knox Art Department, especially professors Lynette Lombard, Tony Gant and Mark Holmes. “They acted as a support system and really encouraged me to pursue painting,” she said.
Through Knox she was able to apply for summer programs with the Chautauqua Institute School of Art in 2006 and 2007. There she was able to study alongside other committed artists. She was also able to study abroad at American University in Corciano, Italy during the fall term of her junior year at Knox.
Nardie-Warner has received multiple grants and awards throughout her art education. Her most recent, the Esther B. and Albert S. Kahn Career Entry Award for $10,000, has allowed her to start out her painting career with her own studio and supplies. She explained that selection for this award was “based on the strength of your work and the success you have to offer.”