Episode 067 - Aunia Kahn

In this week's episode, I welcome Aunia Kahn! Aunia is a true jack-of-all-trade artist. She has excelled in many different art forms, from a painter, graphic designer, and website developer, to podcast host, speaker, and writer--with a brief stint as a one-woman band. She shares her artistic journey and lots of sage advice in her delightful episode. (Fun fact: the cover image for this podcast is one of Aunia's original paintings!)


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Episode 67 - Aunia Kahn

[00:00:00] Lindsey Dinneen: Hello, and welcome to Artfully Told, where we share true stories about meaningful encounters with art.

[00:00:06] Krista: I think artists help people have different perspectives on every aspect of life.

[00:00:12] Roman: All I can do is put my part in to the world.

[00:00:15] Elizabeth: It doesn't have to be perfect the first time. It doesn't have to be perfect ever really. I mean, as long as you, and you're enjoying doing it and you're trying your best, that can be good enough.

[00:00:23] Elna: Art is something that you can experience with your senses and that you just experiences as so beautiful.

[00:00:31] Lindsey Dinneen: Hi friends, whether you are just getting started or you're a seasoned professional looking to up your game, I have an exciting opportunity for you. Did you know that I am actually the creator of 10 different courses online that range from ballet, jazz, tap. They also include a mindset detox course and two Stretch and Tone courses. So if you're looking to start a new hobby or get a little bit fitter, or you're looking to do a deep dive into your mindset, really perform a true detox, I have the course for you, and I would love to help you out with that. So if you go to elevateart.thinkific.com, you will see all of the different courses I've created.

[00:01:26] You don't have to step in a classroom to take your first dance class. I teach a signature 20 Moves in 20 Days course that allows you to learn 20 steps in just 20 days. It's a lot of fun. We have a great time together. And I think you're going to absolutely love the different courses. And Artfully Told listeners get a little something from me. So if you go, you'll sign up and use the promo code "artfullytold," all one word, and when you do so you'll get 15% off the purchase of any and all your favorite courses. All right, listeners, enjoy that. Again, it's elevateart.thinkific.com. See you there.

[00:02:11] Hello, and welcome back to another episode of Artfully Told. I'm your host Lindsey, and I am very excited to have as my guest today, Aunia Kahn. She is a creative entrepreneur extraordinaire. I feel like that's maybe a good summary there. So many different things that she has dabbled in and obviously is an expert in, so everything from podcasting to graphic design to writing, I believe, and I would say probably a whole smattering of things in between. So thank you so much for joining us today on your I'm so excited to have you here.

[00:02:53] Aunia Kahn: Thank you. And yes, I do.

[00:02:56] Lindsey Dinneen: Very good. Okay, good. I thought so. All right. Well, I would love if you would just share with us a little bit about your background, kind of maybe how you got started, if you're okay with that.

[00:03:06] Aunia Kahn: Yeah, totally. So I kind of came into art in a very strange way. A lot of people come into art because that's what they just want to do. And I didn't come on to art that way. I grew up in a family where I wasn't really supported artistically and I was really encouraged to do like, quote unquote, normal job. And so that's the direction that I went with. My life is studying psychology and other things completely outside of art, but I had always been somebody who just loved art and enjoyed it, but never thought it could be a career. And then I got really sick around the age of 19 and started to have some pretty extensive health crisises, crisis's crazy. Anyway, it's a weird word. Health, health concerns, health issues. And I ended up turning to art as a way to work through those challenges. And because I was always a really driven individual, I've always been very goal oriented and like check off the boxes kind of person in my life that in doing so I felt like I needed to do something with it, not just make the art, but maybe do something with it.

[00:04:27] And one day I was out of my house, which I didn't go out very much. I mean, I was very housebound. I went out to this little park and it was this art thing for kids, and I was there and I was at a little table and I was doing some watercolor pencils. And some gentleman walked up to me and said, "Can I take a picture of you?" And I was like, "Mm. Yeah, no, like who are you?" And he said, "Well, I'm a local, you know, photographer for the local newspaper and we're doing a little thing." And we ended up talking, becoming friends and down the road, he is the person that talked me into first exhibiting my art and putting it out there publicly. And that's how it all started. I started to submit to exhibitions. I started to win awards. I started to get into ,shows but that's kind of how I got started in the world of exhibiting art.

[00:05:25] Graphic and web design I was doing prior to 'cause I was really interested in music and doing music covers and websites well before the art stuff, just for fun. But that's kind of how I got into art and how I got kind of pushed into a place that I really didn't think that could ever support me or that I'd ever be good at, or I'd ever really have success. I just, I was like, oh, okay. This is kind of weird, but I felt connected, Lindsey. I felt really connected with people because I would put my artwork and shows and I would have people make really intense reactions to the work because the work back then was a lot more dark. It had a lot to do with childhood trauma and other really difficult situations. So it was hard for me to even put that stuff on a wall, let alone deal with people's reactions to my work from a distance, but I realized that it was cathartic.

[00:06:23] And since I'd always been somebody who is interested in psychology, I kind of learned that I couldn't be a therapist because of my illness and because I'm too empathetic, but in a way I'm inadvertently helping people by working with trauma and challenging situations through my art, where other people can relate to them and be able to work through it on their own as well. So that's kind of it in a nutshell. And of course it goes on from there, but that's, that's the nutshell over the last 15 years.

[00:06:56] Lindsey Dinneen: Perfect. So, well, I love the nutshell. That definitely that is so cool. It encapsulates so many different experiences and wow, what an amazing story to go from this like random chance encounter to then that's what kind of sparked your, your creative journey to a different level. Like you said, you were already a graphic designer and so you had that artistic bent, but then too, Oh, my word. Just take it and run through meeting this stranger who asks you this awkward question? I really love that story.

[00:07:32] Aunia Kahn: And I was just going to say it was the same with the graphic design element. I ended up having a friend who had an extra computer and he was just like, "do you, do you want it? It has Photoshop and all this stuff on it. And I know you were interested in web stuff for the band that you were doing." And I said, "yes." And now we're 15 years later and I'm, I do web design, websites and graphic stuff and all that kind of stuff, you know, for a living alongside my art. So two chance encounters, really two, two very different situations and two very different people who I've definitely let them know, like, "thank you." I wouldn't be here today without you, kind of changed my life.

[00:08:12] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah. That's, that's awesome. Sometimes I think it only takes, you know, one person, whether it's a chance encounter or someone you happen to know or whatever, but they just say the right thing at the right moment. And then it like launches something you, you wouldn't have ever expected. I mean, I've had that experience too. It's special. It's, it's-- you never know when you're going to be that person to somebody else too. So always, you know, pointing people in an encouraging direction, and I'm going off on a tangent here. I'm just recognizing the fact that sometimes those individuals don't realize how much of a difference they're making in the moment. So, yeah, I think it's cool that you go back in and say thanks.

[00:08:51] Aunia Kahn: Yeah. People don't know. I mean, how many times has people's lives been changed by one person and that one person doesn't ever have any clue.

[00:08:59] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah, exactly. Okay. So you had mentioned graphic design and website design, but then you had sort of snuck in this thing about having a band. What was that?

[00:09:11] Aunia Kahn: I don't anymore. This was, this was a long time ago. I did, I did music. I had my own, like a project that was the best way that I could explain it for like the layman, is I was kind of like a female Nine Inch. So I did all the percussion. I did all of the vocals. I did all the mastering of the tracks. I did all the work. I am not at all successful like Nine Inch Nails. So I'm not comparing it like that, like I was amazing. Just kind of like the similar, how, you know, music is constructed. I really didn't have other people with me. It was really just my own thing. And I also ran a small record label along with it, with other bands in the same genre. So it was Gothic industrial synth pop kind of music. Had to quit that because of my illness, unfortunately, but that's kind of where I started to, you know, create album covers and all that. That's kind of where it started. So it was a lot of fun and I miss it. I really do. I've been thinking about revisiting that part of my creativity again, but I haven't sure.

[00:10:13] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah. Oh, how fun. Well, and I know you also are a podcast host. I'd love to hear about what, what is your podcast about and all of that.

[00:10:23] Aunia Kahn: Sure. So I do two different podcasts. I have one called the Auxilium House podcast, which is my graphic and web design business. So I give businesses tips and tricks about web design, marketing cause I do a lot of marketing and branding as well. So I run that and then, and that's just kind of like here and there. And then I've had the Creighton Inspire podcast since 2013, 14-- I think 14 and that's been kind of an on and off thing where it's just really about helping artists, giving, giving them ideas about, you know, same thing, kind of like crossover-- marketing, websites how to navigate social media, how to deal with challenging times, how to get into art galleries. Just basically like how to, and then it's kinda coupled like with my blog now where I have blogs and I have videos that I do on YouTube with like the same content. So I'm doing the podcast from time to time, probably like once or twice a month, videos about once a week. And so there's probably like two or three blogs being posted a month with information with, like I said, tutorials, helpful information to really just help inspire artists, and then also dealing with artists in the challenging aspects of a career, feeling really bad about yourself, you know, feeling challenged by other artists that are better than you, feeling like you're worthless.

[00:11:50] I mean, there's just so many things that artists go through because art is such intrinsic-- what's the other word I want to say like, oh, just like deep experience for a lot of people, you know, when people are creating things, whether it's music, art, Anything that they're creating. I mean, you could just be like, you know, I don't know, remodeling a car when you put your energy into something that you're creating. There's a lot of soul that goes into it. And there's a lot of feeling of uncomfortability. Is there going to be social validation? Am I going to be supported? Are people going to make fun of me? So I really try to help artists work through that.

[00:12:25] Lindsey Dinneen: I, I love that. And that is so important because I think that happens so often where it's not just the actual work that you're creating. It's all of the mental work that goes into it as well. And it is, it's an undertaking and it is something where, you know, you, you, you put your best out there and you hope that it's good. You hope that it resonates with someone and a lot of it is just like, well, we'll see. So learning to be comfortable with that is is challenging, but can be really, really cool too, to see the end result of that. So, yeah. That's great that you do that. I love that. Your podcasts sound fantastic. Yeah. I'm super excited to check them out.

[00:13:09] Aunia Kahn: Thanks.

[00:13:10] Lindsey Dinneen: Of course. And so then, okay. So I guess what all keeps you busy these days? Cause I obviously feel like you're so multi-talented, so what are all the different things that you're, that you're doing like regularly today?

[00:13:27] Aunia Kahn: Oh, boy.

[00:13:30] Lindsey Dinneen: I know.

[00:13:30] Aunia Kahn: There's, there's, you know, it's one of those things I think, I think there's just different types of creators and I'm just somebody who just really has a hard time not doing things. And being kind of still, I think partially because I lost so many years with my illness, that I'm still trying to catch up with time and I'm also fast anyway. So I've always, and I'm always doing something. Like I like, I like to expand. And I, I think the biggest thing that I'm doing right now is challenging myself to not be in a box because over the last 15 years, I've had a career as an artist that does a specific type of art. And people know me for that art. They just do. That's my name is connected with that and, and I want to bring up my illness cause this is really challenged and change those last few months for me is, over the last couple of years, I finally got a diagnosis after almost 20 years. And I finally got medication, which has helped support my system, and I'm allergic to everything. So that's what my disease is. I'm basically like allergic to things like most foods, even water at times.

[00:14:39] So it has meant for me as an artist that I couldn't touch physical mediums, so I couldn't paint. I had to do everything digitally. I couldn't work in colored pencil because I could have a life-threatening allergic reaction touching something. So over the last numerous years of my career, since 2005, I have primarily been a digital artist. I could deal with graphite from time to time. So I did do that. But other than that, I haven't been able to, and with the pandemic happening in May of last year, not this year. So we're coming up on a year anniversary of this. I was able to work in color pencil for the first time and I didn't have any reaction. And then I slowly in November moved into watercolor. And so I'm exploring all of these new mediums. I have some projects as well, but I'm exploring new mediums and they're not as refined as my other work. And it's very scary to put it out there and know that people are going to hate and they're going to judge it because like anything, when we are used to it.

[00:15:40] I mean, think of bands, Lindsey, like, oh yeah, this band, we know it for this music. And then if they change their style, people are like, "This is stupid. I hate it. This is not what I'm used to." And I understand that we enjoy the feeling of knowing what we're going to get from somebody, because that's why we followed them, right? Like we know the kind of music they're going to. If a band is playing metal music, and then all of a sudden they become country singers, it's like, well, that's not my kind of music I like. I mean, you know, but I, but I want to encourage that that's great. Like do what you want to do. Like, I think it's amazing when bands and artists shift themselves completely, I think it's, it's prolific, but for me as a person who's done it, it's been very hard. I, I kind of knew who I was. I knew where I stood. I kind of understood my career. And now I'm like, "Who am I? I don't know who I am," you know, putting out art that's completely different.

[00:16:33] So one of the ways to remedy this was to create a project called the Portrait Project, which I know is just a general name, but I didn't have anything special. And the idea is people were able to submit pictures of themselves to me. And I was going to randomly pick people through this pool to paint them so that I could master --not really master, cause I don't believe anybody's a master-- but get better, improve in the mediums that I'm working in using realistic faces of people who perhaps couldn't pay me for our commission or maybe wouldn't have had the opportunity to, to be in an, a piece of artwork. So we're talking, you know, different sexes, different races, different ages. So I'm using all people of the world. And this gives me the ability to grow and all artwork once completed is donated to the subject and they have an opportunity to pay me with a donation or if they are unable to do so they don't have. But they can, or people who are not a part of the project can donate to the project. And I also have an Amazon wishlist that has products like tape and, you know, paper and things that I use to ship the artwork. So that's one of the ways that I'm, I'm remedy, remedying it by creating a community connection. I'm healing and I want the community to be a part of it. So that's the real big focus and project that I'm currently working in.

[00:17:59] And then I'm working on commissions on a regular basis. I'm doing some book covers. I'm obviously have graphic and web design clients that I work with on a regular basis that are primarily in numerous industries. So I, you know, have had people in HR and I have artists and I have all these wonderful clients that I'm working with. I'm working on a bird book. So I love birds and I started to paint birds in these mediums. And so I'm creating a bird book with these really cool stories about each of them birds. There's probably like 20 different things that are going, but I think those are the biggest things that are happening. And then of course my exhibition schedule, working with different galleries that I work with yearly for different shows. And podcasting and popping on podcasts and writing blogs and doing videos and just doing the thing.

[00:18:53] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah. Oh my goodness. Just doing lots of things. Do you sleep?

[00:18:56] Aunia Kahn: No. And then people often ask, do I drink coffee or do drugs? And neither, like, I can't do anything. Like, you know, like I'm allergic to everything. I just, I run on, I run on passion for life, really. Like, I'm glad to be here. I think that's why I have so much energy because I didn't think I was going to make it here and to this part of my life. I really didn't. And I'm, I'm glad to be alive. And so I think that there there's just a lot of passion behind that. Like I saw, I have gray hair now, like a good streak in my hair. Good witchy streak on both sides of my temples. And most people would be like, "ew yeah." And I'm like, I love it. I'm alive, I'm here. And so that's where the energy comes from. Just the passion of losing a large chunk of my life, but also just, I'm really glad to be alive.

[00:19:45] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah, of course. Well, thank you for sharing that story because that's incredibly powerful and it is so interesting to hear how you've adapted and just, you know, gone with what you did have. And, and it sounds-- I don't mean to diminish anything that you've been through, but I, I also commend you for, for looking for the positive and looking for what you can do. I think that's would be a very challenging thing to do when you feel like you've lost a lot. And so I think it's so amazing what you're producing and just, you know, your, your passion, your energy, your drive for life, and then what you've been able to do as a result of, of that, and bring a very unique viewpoint to the world. So, man, kudos to you. My word!

[00:20:30] Aunia Kahn: I appreciate that. I think that's one of the things I love to encourage in other people is finding what you can do. It's hard-- I mean, especially now with the pandemic, it's hard for us not to, you know, think about, "oh, I can't do that. I can't do that." And when we realized the things that we can do, it really does help lift our spirits. I think it's an important refrain for almost anybody who's dealing with anything challenging. It's like, what, what can you do? I mean, I did that when I became allergic to all of my jewelry. Like I couldn't wear any of my jewelry anymore because I'm a highly allergic to metals. And I used to just look at my jewelry and I used to be somebody who wore rings on every finger. I mean, I was just very much into jewelry. I remember the day that I was like, I can't do this. I can't look at it anymore. It just reminds me of the can'ts. So I put it all away. And then I remember going online and finding acrylic jewelry and beaded jewelry and doing all that. And it really just shifted that feeling. And so I'd love to encourage other people because everybody's going through something right now, everybody who's listening I'm sure is, has gone through something or is going through something and just kind of, it's not always that feeling of-- people say, "oh, find the good in it." It's like, sometimes you can't find the good in it sometimes really you can't, you need to sit with those feelings, but what can you do? What, what can you do to adapt to the current situation?

[00:21:55] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah. Yeah. I love that perspective. Thank you for sharing that. I think that is just so inspiring, but so incredibly important and you're right. People can relate to that and, and I, I've been more recently sort of tuned into the whole, you know, it's okay to sit with those feelings. I think for a long time, I sort of had a, oh, you know, just trying to find the bright side. And sometimes, like you said, there's not a bright side or it's not immediately known, you know? And so it's hard if you don't let yourself just process, like, yes, this is, this is not fun. This is not ideal. But what can I do? Yeah. I love that. Yeah. So, okay. Well, good gravy. You are amazing and inspiring and I-- no, I mean it, I, I, you know, and I think especially your idea of the, you talked about sort of switching gears and, and going to this, this new way of doing art and, and, and so also kudos to you for being brave, because I also know what that's like is when you've like kind of established who you are and then you veer in a different direction. And sometimes people don't like it, but being true to yourself is really important. So kudos to you for that. So this community project is, do you-- is part of it that you are putting your finished artwork in some kind of a, I know you said you, you'll give it to the subject themselves. But do you also, is this like a gallery project that you've been working on or putting it towards like a portfolio, or is there like a public facing version of this?

[00:23:34] Aunia Kahn: You know, the one thing that I was thinking about doing, because doing, I thought about doing a gallery show, but since the final products aren't currently with me, I mean, I could do digital versions, but one of the things I definitely wanted to focus on is to create a book about it. And to put these portraits of these different people. Of course, some of them have different stories. So I mean, not everybody does, right? Like, or maybe nobody, or maybe some of the people don't want to share their story. But sometimes I have in random picked people who have had stories, like I had a submission where one of the people lost their sister and I actually didn't understand that the person had passed away. I actually thought it was a submission of herself because there was no information and she was randomly chosen and come to find out she had passed away, I believe in 2019, by falling asleep at the wheel of a car. And so when I posted that portrait, we tried to focus on the advocacy aspects of it.

[00:24:36] So that's one of the things I'm really trying to focus on and trying to figure out, like how can I incorporate that into a book or into something in the end that people can acquire, but also recognize that, you know, some people's stories don't want to be told, but maybe their faces are important like for us to look at that person, recognize that there are human beings. They're a part of our world and you know, maybe their story is their story, but other people have stories that are, that are public. So that's kind of what I'm thinking. I'm not sure about, I'm always have something that, you know, I want to do like big, like no, do something huge, but I also want to make sure that there's a lot of integrity to it. And that there's a lot of, like, it's not about fanning who I am or, or promotion of myself. It's really for me to like heal and connect. So how can I do that? How could I offer something to the community where it is affordable or, you know, those, all those kinds of things that you, you think about in that aspect? Cause it's just different, you know, it's a different kind of situation and it humbles me. It really humbles me to meet so many different people across the world and all different walks of life.

[00:25:49] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah, absolutely. I think that's really powerful. So I know before we started recording, you had mentioned also having opportunities to speak at colleges and universities. So I'm guessing that being a public speaker is part of your repertoire of extensive skills. So I'd love to hear more about that.

[00:26:11] Aunia Kahn: Oh, for sure. I absolutely adore public speaking and in the same breath, I absolutely hate it because everybody does. I don't care if you're good at it or not. There is this level of fear that comes with it. " Am I going to mess up, you know, am I going to stumble over my words? Do I have, you know, a fly on my head?" I don't know that that feeling of strangeness to it. And it's the biggest fear. Like people would, people would rather die. Like there's like psychology that says people would rather die than public speak. Like that's how big the fear is for public speaking. So I thought I'd share that if anybody thinks about it and has nervous nervousness around it, I absolutely love going out and doing it. And I talk about various different topic matters, which is a lot of fun. So over the years I have done things like at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, where I have been a part of their mental health outreach project. So creating art and speaking on a panel there. I do things to encourage artists. So, you know, do community support like in Eugene, Oregon, working with Lane Arts Council, where I've been on panels as well. I have gone to numerous places to talk about my background in challenging things in my, in my younger years like bullying and challenging upbringing. So I've talked in various psychology classes, like abnormal psychology and general psychology classes about those kinds of things and, you know, discussing bullying and what it does to people and, and discussing what childhood trauma can do and how it actually affects your immune system. So, those kinds of things.

[00:27:55] And then of course, like mentorship. So I'm working on a local mentorship right now with Lane Arts Council, where I'm working with high school students and we're doing projects in graphic design to see if they might be interested in doing that for future. So that's really fun. So it's just, it's really I think the, the overall arching aspect of what I like to do is really just inspire people and help them to work through challenges or work through kind of where they want to go with it. I think that's really just what I love doing and I wish I could do it more. Of course COVID has changed that for me, but also has brought different opportunities with Zoom, especially since it is hard for me with my disease to go places. Prior to COVID, it was very challenging, but I would, I would push myself because I really loved it so much. It's just something, it's just something that feels really natural to me. And I think the feedback that I get afterwards always feels like it gives me confirmation that I'm in the right space. And I think that's kind of where I, I sit with it, but it's always about inspiration of some sort and I like to talk. So that's the other thing. I just do. Ever since I was little it's like my, my report cards used to say she's an A student, but she won't shut up. Stop talking to her. Then the kids next to her, I'm like, I'm just helping them with their homework. Stop it. Oh.

[00:29:21] Lindsey Dinneen: Oh, I love that. It's fantastic.

[00:29:24] Aunia Kahn: It's inbred. It's inbred in me.

[00:29:26] Lindsey Dinneen: Right, right. No, that is wonderful. I love that. Well, I'm sure that you have moments that kind of stick out in your memory, but I always love to hear about, you know, things that just really made an impact on you, whether you were viewing or participating in someone else's art or whether you watched them witness something of yours, but just this like thing that you go, man, I have to tuck this away because this is important. This is something to remember about this encounter with art.

[00:29:57] Aunia Kahn: I think, I think encounters with art for me, I, it really, you know, I think because I've, I was a gallerist. At one point I ran a gallery and also being an artist myself, where I've shown in museums and galleries and things like that, where I've been in the professional aspects of art. The one thing that always sticks to me is when somebody says to me like, "who's your favorite artist?" I think we always kind of want to go to these specific people. And I always say "children" because they're just not-- they don't have any reservation about their creativity. They just do the thing. And obviously being a gallerist for a period of time, it was important for me to judge artwork that was high quality that would keep my business open that I could sell. I would always integrate other people into it though, that I knew that couldn't, or didn't have opportunities, marginalized groups of people I would always invite that are people who've never shown or whatever. But the reason I bring that up is I think really the experience of art for me is just being able to be open and non-judgmental.

[00:31:04] Like there's so many people that are like, "that's ugly" or "you, you don't know how to draw this," or there's so much hate around what's good and what's bad art. And I understand that there's a professional aspect of it where we can judge it on its merit. We can judge it on its quality. But I also feel from a guttural experience where I'm not somebody who ever came into this because I wanted to be where I am today. I was not like, I'm going to be an artist. You know, I'm going to have 350,000 people follow me on Facebook and I'm going to be amazing. Like, no, like that's not at all why I did it. I did it because I needed to survive. I did it because it felt good to. And that was even when I was a kid, I did it as a survival technique. Creativity was this way for me to stay connected, to stay grounded, to stay healthy, to work through challenges. And I really feel that art is like that and that we need to lose judgment of it.

[00:31:59] And you can roll your eyes at, you know, Rothko and go "that's not art," but really, I know people who've cried in front of a Rothko. And if people don't know what Rothko is, it's just, go look it up. I'm not going to explain it. And you'll understand what I'm saying. It's, it's just really simple. And people are like, "oh, that's not art." It's like, art is art. Art is a form of creativity. It doesn't matter what it is. I don't care if you're sewing buttons on shirts. I don't, I don't care what you're doing, if you're gardening. The idea of creating something or doing something with our hands, the idea of being a maker, the idea of all of that is just, I just feel like it's so-- and I have a hard time with judgment and I'm really big about like, let's not judge, let's just be, let's just enjoy, let people, let people do what they want to do. Like why do we always have to be so judgmental? You know, I get it in the industry. There's a reason to be judgmental because there is a professionalism in certain aspects of showing in a gallery. I get that galleries can't just go, "well, we're just going to show whoever, because we're not going to get our bills paid then."

[00:33:04] But overall the general aspect of creativity, the general aspect of human, the human condition to create from, you know, centuries ago is just a soul. And that's the thing I always try to remember in every aspect. And that's why I'm able to kind of like move into some other thing, because it's like, I don't want to just be known for one thing, because that makes me feel good about myself. I was like, no, I want to be known for somebody who's willing to take risks, who's willing to try and actually almost destroy my career because I'm willing to be vulnerable and actually show my face. You know, I do that a lot on my Facebook page where I show things I totally screwed up because I want people to not see a curated version of me. I want us to realize we're all human and creativity is his soul. And so I'm preaching, but it's so important to me. Like it's so important for me to nurture that. And, and everybody that I know.

[00:34:00] Lindsey Dinneen: Well, I love that. And yes, I think you went into professor mode and I adore it. No, that was perfect and so inspirational. And, fully, fully agree with you. And I love how you kind of, you know-- I think this is an important distinction-- I love the way that you, you talked about it in that, you know, art can be so many different things. There's so many different people and it doesn't have to be judged. I mean, it's just, there's a place, there's a lot of place for that. And there is a place when you're paying bills based off of the art where, you know, a certain level of professionalism needs to come into play, but I like the fact that you separated them and they're both valid. I think that's such an important thing is, you know, sometimes we talk about how, "oh, you can't call yourself an artist unless you've sold your work" or something like that. And it's like, "well, no, you know, you are an artist." I think humans are inherently creative and it just depends on the outlet you choose to express that.

[00:35:06] Aunia Kahn: Absolutely.

[00:35:07] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah. And you kind of already answered my first question, but I'll let you elaborate it anyway just in case that you want to add to it, because a lot of what you had just said was sort of answering it, but do you mind if I ask you a couple of my favorite questions?

[00:35:23] Aunia Kahn: Yeah, of course.

[00:35:24] Lindsey Dinneen: Okay.

[00:35:24] Aunia Kahn: I told you I like to talk!

[00:35:26] Lindsey Dinneen: Very true. Okay. So, and again, you can choose to elaborate it or just say, you know what, I think I've covered it, but the first one is how do you personally define art or what is art to you?

[00:35:38] Aunia Kahn: I love it. So, you know, art, art is whatever it wants to be. And I, I'm really in love with all aspects of creativity. There's so many things that I'm sure that even people that are listening to that don't recognize as art or things that are going on that people aren't seeing, performance art being one of them, the collage community. I mean, there's just so many different types of art and it can be whatever it can be, whatever it wants to be, whatever you want to call art. If I want to put a, a rock on my desk and put a little hair clip on top of it, and I want to call it a sculpture, like, that's what I feel art is. I feel art is really anything you want it to be and anybody can be outside and go, yeah, that's a hair clip in a rock. Like that's not art, you know? And that's fine. Like, that's fine. But what we feel is it, how, how are we expressing ourselves? And if that makes me feel something, it's putting that hair clip on that rock does something for me, that's all that it really matters because art is really not about the viewer. It's more about the person doing it. Now, I know there's plenty of people who create art as you know for social justice and political reasons. Like I get that, like, it is more for the viewer. Like I get it. And maybe the people are doing it or having a really great experience around it as well.

[00:37:04] But when I think of art, I think about the core aspects of how is the person creating it, feeling about it? What are they getting from it? And that is really all that should matter to an artist. First of course, there could be other layers, like an onion on top of it, of how they want to take that out into the world. And if they want to take it out into the world, because there's a lot of people out there who are doing art that nobody even knows exists. Like my partner is also a gallery artist. And over the last year, he's decided he's not doing public art anymore. He's-- not public art, like, you know, public art in public places, but putting his art into galleries. And he has been doing a really private study of his own work and totally changed his style as well. And there's plenty of artists out there that we'll never see, we'll never get to experience, but it's all about the experience for ourselves while we're creating the work.

[00:38:00] Even if we're creating it just for commerce. And that's fine too. If you want to be an artist and you want to create it for commerce and you know what people like, and you know how to sell it, good for you. You know your reason behind it, it doesn't make it any less art than somebody who's creating something for galleries or creating something, you know, just for themselves or maybe even for their parent or their best friend. So that's kind of what art is to me, the experience of creating something. What it does, how, how we experience it, and then the decision of how we're going to take that further if we want to take it further.

[00:38:36] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah. Oh, I love that. I love that definition. Perfect. And then what do you think is the most important role of an artist?

[00:38:45] Aunia Kahn: The most important role of an artist is to not worry about what everybody thinks. The most important role of an artist is to do what they want to do in, in themselves, what feels right for them and to not cater to anybody else. Unless of course they're catering for a reason, like I said you know, a minute ago, like, you know, I want to sell my work and I know this kind of stuff sells, and this is what I'm creating, because I know I can make a dollar and pay my bills. That's great. You know, but I-- the role of an artist is to be who they want to-- I think the role of anybody, I think the role of an artist is the role of anybody, really, to be who you want to be without explaining yourself. Of course, unless you're harming people, that's a whole other thing, but, you know, be who you want to be, express how you want to express, live how you want to live, without the expectations and pressures of society and other people. That's how I feel artists and people not should-- cause I don't like the word should-- but would benefit in living life, being free, free of, free of all of that, to just be what you want to be, do what you want to do. Say what you want to say.

[00:40:02] Lindsey Dinneen: I love that. Yeah. That's so important. That's absolutely so important. Okay.

[00:40:08] Aunia Kahn: Yeah. You know, we're pack animals. When we get rejected, there is a, there a, a visceral deep primal feeling that we're going to die. You know, when we are not accepted by the group and people feel bad, you know, feel bad about that. Like, oh, well I feel rejected. I shouldn't feel this way. It's like, no, there's actually a primal reason that we stay in packs or we stay in groups or we need community. So it's really hard for people to step against that, push against that and being willing to risk being rejected. Cause there's a lot more, there's a lot, it's a lot deeper than people believe it to be, right?

[00:40:47] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah. No, that makes sense. And I think that, that, that's nice to think about because it allows you to give yourself some grace too, when you're like, oh, I shouldn't feel this way. Well, there's a very natural reason you feel this way and that's okay. And you know, we can also choose to move beyond it, but it is okay. Yeah. Okay. And my third question, my final question is, and I'll kind of define my terms a little bit, but do you think that art should be inclusive or exclusive? And what I mean by that is inclusive referring to an artist who puts their work out into the world and provide some context behind it, whether it's program notes or a title, or the inspiration, just something to give people a little bit of background. Versus exclusive referring to an artist who puts their work out there and doesn't provide the context so it's left solely up to the viewer to decide what they will.

[00:41:40] Aunia Kahn: I think that's a really great question. I really do. I think that-- kind of backing onto what I said, I think it's whatever. Do you know what I mean? Like, I feel like it's just like, whatever the artist wants to do. And however they want it to be. I mean, there's so many artists out there who will put stuff out there and people are like, "what does that mean?" And they're like, "I don't know. You tell me what it means. Like it's not for me to tell you." And then there's other artists out there who are willing to write elaborate stories about why they created a piece. And I think it's really left to the artists to decide how they want to present that because really in a world of putting art out there, it doesn't matter if you put context behind it or you do not put context behind it. People are going to digest that work in their own way. We look through life in our own lens, from our own experiences, our own cultural biases are, how our family structure is, where we live. All of these things give us a lens to view things through and doesn't matter if somebody puts context to something or not. The people who are going to consume it are going to consume it the way they're going to consume it. So there's almost no way to really guarantee it by putting context to something that it's going to land the way that you want it to. So it's, I think it's just being open as an artist to go, like, "do I want to add context and do I not want to add context, but I have to understand if I don't add context that people can feel into it and pretty much add anything to it." But on the other side, if I do add context, the same thing's going to happen. You know, it's the same thing. People are going to judge it. So I think it's really up to them.

[00:43:22] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah. Yeah. Great. I agree. I love that answer. Well, my goodness, you are so incredibly inspiring and I just love hearing your stories and, and just all the wonderful things that you bring to the world. I think the way that you have chosen to produce art, the way that you've chosen to live your life and to bring this beauty and inspiration to the world is just fantastic. And I feel like I'm just kind of repeating myself cause I'm really inspired.

[00:43:54] Aunia Kahn: I love that, though. That's really sweet and I feel the same about you. I feel, you know, that your questions and, and the way that you conduct what you do is very genuine and inspiring as well. It's, it's very helpful. And I think a lot of people get value from what you do.

[00:44:10] Lindsey Dinneen: Well, thank you. I appreciate that. Well, and I know there are going to be lots of our listeners who are super interested in what you do. And I'm curious if there's a way that they can connect with you, either through websites, social media, whatever you're comfortable sharing. I know that we'd love to follow your journey, maybe listen to your podcast.

[00:44:29] Aunia Kahn: Great. So you can find me with my art on auniakahn.com, A U N I A K H A N.com. I am on all social media, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, I'm very active there with the people that I engage with. I love engaging with my followers and supporters. If you guys are interested in my graphic design work, it's Auxilium. A U X I L I U M house spelled in German, H A U S.com. And that's pretty much, you can find me anywhere just by putting my name in.

[00:45:07] Lindsey Dinneen: Perfect. Awesome. Thank you. Well, again, of course thank you so very much for being here. I really appreciate your time today and just excited to share your artwork and your love and passion for life with the world. So thank you so much for that. And thank you so much to everyone who has listened to this episode. And if you're feeling as inspired as I am right now, I'd love if you'd share this with a friend or two and we will catch you next time.

[00:45:39] If you have a story to share with us, we would love that so much. And I hope your day has been Artfully Told.

[00:45:49] Hi friends. I wanted to share with you another podcast that I think you're going to fall in love with just as I have. It's called Harlem with a View, and it is hosted by Harlem Lennox, who was a previous guest of mine on Artfully Told and a dear friend. Just because it looks easy doesn't mean it is. There is so much that goes into the work of your creative. She wants to know how the artists got into their line of work, what inspires them, but most importantly, what keeps them going? She'd asked them about how they make it through the blood, sweat, and tears. She wants to know what it's like to live this creative life: the good, the bad, the ugly, and even the magical. So she goes behind the scenes with creatives, from different genres and she explores their history, their take on life and talks about the business of art and the dedication of making art. She has a brilliant, brilliant platform. I think you will fall in love. I highly recommend that you search for Harlem with a View. Thanks!

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