Kirah Van Sickle is an artist and adventurer at heart. Her early years set a foundation for travel, exploration and visual storytelling. She received her undergraduate degree from Duke University, Master of Science in Medical Illustration from the Medical College of Georgia, and Master of Fine Arts in Painting from the Academy of Art University, in San Francisco. She managed her creative consulting company, Animania, for 18 years, before transitioning to higher ed.
Kirah focused her early representational style on the figure and still life, employing traditional watercolor, acrylic and oil techniques. In 2000, she began to transition from the technical precision of her commercial illustration to embracing semi-abstraction. By 2005, she was fully immersed in a more contemporary approach, fueled by the spontaneity and focus required when painting in the moment, in nature (en plein air) and exercises in automatic drawing.
Kirah's paintings and mixed media works explore incorporating found objects/papers within the paint layers. These are deeply personal expressions of her memories and dreams. The combination of ephemera and nautical and geological-inspired imagery alludes to themes of liminality and the metaphorical journey across uncharted seas.
In addition to her studio practice, Kirah is a dynamic lecturer and seasoned studio instructor leading her custom series of plein air, drawing, painting and mixed media courses regionally, and internationally. She works with emerging artists to develop their authentic voice. As a certified Golden Artist-Educator, Kirah brings a rich insight in materials, and traditional and contemporary processes to her workshop offerings. She is active in community arts programming, passionate about preservation of cultural and natural resources, and enhancing arts education.
While Kirah maintains a home on the Cape Fear Coast of North Carolina, you can often find her in Alaska, Florida, the Pac Northwest and Europe. She is an adjunct instructor at the Cameron Art Museum, Cape Fear Community College and Johnston Community College.