Christopher Kuhl is "Searching for Redtown"

Artist finds inspiration in Native American history in the Southeast

Artist Christopher Kuhl has traveled all over the world, but always finds himself back in Atlanta. He served as the Visual Arts Specialist for the City of Atlanta during the 1996 Olympics and has had exhibitions everywhere, from Myanmar to Europe and the Middle East. Using photography and painting, Kuhl creates layered mixed-media works that reflect his travels. His latest exhibition, Searching for Redtown, focuses on his recent travels in the Southeast in search of Native Americans' history and their current rural presence.

Kuhl talked to Creative Loafing about displaying his artwork at the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library and exploring Native American culture in the South through his work.

The Atlanta-Fulton Library is such an interesting venue to display work. How did that come about? Did the location influence your work in any way?

I have always wanted to exhibit my artwork at the Atlanta-Fulton County Library, as it is a crown jewel of our ring of libraries and it's a central crossroads/ground zero of Atlanta culture and history. Serendipity brought me here — it is an open process — Chera Baugh adores art and has a Masters in Art History from Emory University and directs the gallery.

Tell me about the concept behind your show, Searching for Redtown.

Searching for Redtown came to me as a title from a series of works based upon my research, reading, and travels in the Southeast. [I traveled through] Alabama, Georgia, and Florida in search of a Native American presence or prescience in theses rural areas. It was the beginning of a 13-year journey to seek the earliest cultural imprints in this region. I gave my "REDTOWN 1" painting to my brother before he left to teach English in Afghanistan for good luck!

What inspired Redtown? Was it a place you visited during your travels?

Redtown was an actual Seminole/Creek town for over 70 years, but after the Seminole Wars and Trail of Tears, it does not exist today. It's an empty space, a deep space that could only be filled in by the imagination. Later, I realized that everyone is searching for Redtown — or a spiritual home — a place of total acceptance where self-revelation is a daily or hourly process.

My interest in Native American culture, art, language, and ritual goes back to a college course called "Poets of the Earth," and since, I have visited many Native Americans' reservations from Washington State, Oregon, [and] Arizona to the East Coast in search of experiences that tumble away one's preconceptions and lead to new ways of thinking. I hope that these recent paintings keep me moving in an open-ended journey to express emotive gestures and unconscious uncritical acceptance and surprise.

You've been all over the world, from New York City to Japan, and now you're back here again. What are your thoughts on how the Atlanta art scene has changed since you worked for the City of Atlanta?

Atlanta is mushrooming culturally — so many new young artists, recent art school graduates, and mid-career practitioners — it is really a large communal vibe here among new galleries, art spaces and emerging collectives and art colleges — a really bright future indeed if the public and artists can truly interact! Someone should invite all Atlanta artists and cultural groups to a grand convention at the Georgia Dome!

More By This Writer


Thursday August 25, 2016 08:00 am EDT
The Atlanta Contemporary wakes up the Atlanta Biennial out of its 9-year slumber | more...


Wednesday August 10, 2016 06:30 pm EDT

%{data-embed-type=%22image%22 data-embed-id=%2257a3a78857ab467a50a47e70%22 data-embed-element=%22span%22 data-embed-size=%22640w%22 contenteditable=%22false%22}%

Moving is a sure way to shoot down nostalgia road, but for artist Kyle Brooks, it led to a much larger discovery than embarrassing photos. While packing up his Southeast Atlanta home, the folk artist better known as BlackCatTips...

| more...


Wednesday July 6, 2016 10:38 am EDT

The 7th Annual Atlanta Shortsfest kicks off the Atlanta Film Series, screening nearly 100 short films at the Synchronicity Theatre on Fri., July 15, and Sat., July 16. The two-day fest highlights filmmakers from across the world.

“It’s been incredible to see the evolution of the films over the years,” Festival Director Bj Ogden says. “The line-up just keeps getting stronger. After...

| more...


Wednesday June 29, 2016 10:14 am EDT
image-1After self-publishing her psychological thriller, Free of Malice, local author Liz Lazarus found herself inspired by Little Free Libraries in her neighborhood. As a way to promote her book and give back, Lazarus started leaving copies of her book in these libraries around town to encourage feedback, all with the promise of donating a portion of her book sales to local libraries with... | more...


Wednesday June 22, 2016 03:24 pm EDT

The Studio Artist Program is opening its doors and inviting Atlanta to get a sneak peek of what these 14 artists (some pictured above) have been up to. The program supports them by providing subsidized studio space and encouraging them to create. From getting to see their new work to getting first dibs on a new piece, it’s a unique opportunity to meet artists like Christina A. West...

| more...
Search for more by Muriel Vega