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Interview: Mya Kerner


We sit down with artist Mya Kerner to discuss her recent work on landscapes. 

Photography: Courtesy of Mya Kerner


Rucksack Magazine are honoured to introduce Mya Kerner; an extremely talented artist from Seattle, WA. She has found time in her busy creative schedule to sit down with Rucksack Magazine to complete a fascinating interview. During the interview she discusses her passion for art, where her creativity comes from and why she is currently focussing on landscapes. She explains that she is "a romantic at heart, who cherishes the unknown and the mystery of nature".

Mya also talks about her future travel plans and how the Pacific Northwest continues to captivate and influence her work. Her pieces of work are truly mesmerising and we are convinced you will find her interview a great read. Also visit her website at to view her full collection of work and make sure to follow her creative journey on Instagram @mya_kerner_art.


Tell us a little about yourself and how you became an artist?

I am originally from Philadelphia, PA. I have always considered myself to be an artist, but I will say my formal training began when I was 17, and I worked 20 hours a week, painting one-on-one with a mentor. She shaped my understanding of capturing the essence of my subject. After that, I attended the Maryland Institute College of Art, which was a wonderful experience. I consciously chose a college, which encouraged a multi-disciplinary curriculum, because I tend to want to do everything. After changing majors several times, I completed a degree in Interdisciplinary Sculpture with a minor in Environmental Design.

Where do you think your creativity comes from?

I believe creativity is inherent, but emerges with practice. I am fortunate to come from a family of creatives, so expression has always been encouraged. Whether it was building models, playing with clay, visiting museums, or just colouring outside, my childhood was filled with creative activities, allowing me to feel like an artist from a young age. 

What is your preferred choice of medium?

Material exploration is an important part of my practice. I am taking a break from sculpture, but that practice has heavily influenced the way I approach oil paint as a material. I manipulate the paint in a way more like sculpting than the techniques I was taught in painting classes. The tools that I use are important to this practice: an assortment of silicon spatulas, x-acto knives, empty mechanical pencils, and several favourite brushes. By combining paint and graphite on birch panel, which accepts both forceful and gentle application without distortion, I achieve a satisfying range of mark marking. 

Why do you choose to focus on landscapes?

I was moved to explore landscapes while studying the Romantic Movement, and its rebellion against the Enlightenment. A romantic at heart, I cherish the unknown and mystery of nature. I reject the domination of logic and hope to live in awe of the sublime for the rest of my life. That being said, my studies in permaculture have provided me with some knowledge and rhetoric to speak about my concerns of humanity’s precarious relationship with nature and our crucial role as the stewards of the earth. 

What are you currently working on?

I am working on the language of my marks in relationship to geological features. I present myself with constraints and work to develop different aspects of my work, through iterations, one painting at a time. 

Which piece has been your favourite to work on so far?

There have definitely been a few pivotal pieces in my progression. My perception of each piece changes as time moves forward, but a favourite is one of my cast iron sculptures, Strands II. The piece bridges the gap between my painting and sculpture practices and creates cohesion, where once there was confusion. When casting, attention cannot waiver and the experience is heightened because of this focus. For Strands II, I poured molten metal into a bed of damp, carved clay; the reaction left its history upon the surface. In the completed sculpture, lines travel across a space, simultaneously marking separation and drawing connections.

What art movement or artist would you say influences your work most?

I mentioned the Romantic Movement earlier… artists such as JMW Turner and Caspar David Friedrich, as well as romantic writers continue to influence my work. I am also influenced by Eastern traditions, including the masters of shan shui and the philosophies of wabi sabi.

What is your favourite location to paint?

The drama of the Pacific Northwest terrain captivates me, I feel like I can live here for the rest of my life and never lose this sense of wonder. The mountains change so much within each hour or from different locations. There is little better than sitting on a bluff or a beach with a fresh breeze and reflected sun, looking over the water to the mountains. I usually work on sketches and watercolour paintings on site, returning to these studies once I am back in the studio.

What are your future travel plans?

I am working on some European travel plans for the summer. Right now, I am dreaming of a visit to China to paint the Huangshan Mountains or maybe another backpacking trip to Norway.