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SquidInk Gallery is an exclusively online  gallery event host, out HQ and office space is located in Antioch, California last update Sep 7th 2019

Artist Spotlight | Kenda Francis

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"I am passionately driven to create art that asks my audience to face not only the supreme beauty of animals, but also the struggles they endure to survive today.  I paint about animals that are killed as trophies, for their teeth, their horns, their coats, their tusks and even their fins.  I hope my viewers are attracted to the “street art” style of my work while they learn about amazing, sometimes hardly known animals or plights, and consider their own connection with the non-human living world. I spray paint with multi-layered, hand cut stencils over brush strokes, paint drips, pen and pencil marks to reflect them living in human altered landscapes.  I hope viewers see and feel that animals are struggling, that they need our compassion, that we cannot continue on our path of waste and apathy.  These unique creatures are the secret to a balanced system and to our own well-being and are worth preserving and taking actions to save.

 

They are proud, they are defiant

even under the assault

and with a little compassion

we could all experience victory"

ABOUT THE ARTIST

Kenda Francis was born and raised in San Diego California, in an eastern suburb where she was able to experience open spaces and wildlife as well as pets of many types.  Responsibility for dogs, cats, rabbits, horses, birds and lambs sparked a respect and connection with nature and inspiring high school teachers encouraged an already growing interest in art and photography. Studying art and animals has been her dedication since those early days.  Kenda has a Bachelors from San Diego State University with a degree in painting, printmaking and photography, as well as a Masters Degree in painting from California State University, Chico.  Kenda has also studied Zoology with an Associates from California School of the Redwoods in Eureka and in order to teach art, earned two teaching credentials from National University.

Juma (2018)

60"x 60" triptych

Acrylic Media on Canvas

3 part hand-cut stencil of jaguar, two part gun stencils, various single stencils, acrylic pens, acrylic paint, spray paint

 

Inspired by the following event:  Jaguar Shot Dead After Olympic Torch Event in Brazil

With reference to Pop Art and Warhol in this boldly graphic painting on three panels of pastel colors, the jaguar saunters down an illuminated fashion runway with rifles and assault weapons pointing at her.  Metallic gold and silver rifles and triangles radiate around Juma to create an almost religious allusion to Madonna while the jaguar alone inspires power and beauty, worship and awe.  She is metallic gold, the richest of metals, and our eyes warm to her radiance. Shiny stars sparkle like diamonds and camera flashes.  Paint drips shimmer an excited atmosphere and visual intensity around one of the most beautiful creatures on this planet.  This is an homage to the beautiful Juma, her stature, her grace, and her struggle as a wild animal to remain wild.

This is an homage to the beautiful Juma, her stature, her grace, and her struggle as a wild animal to remain wild

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NYTIMES

Jaguar Shot Dead After Olympic Torch Event in Brazil

 

Austin Ramzy

June 22, 2016

Kenda has worked to perfect her skills and her message with art and photography and has found that her work must help animals in a way that only she can craft.  She donates earnings to Lions Tigers and Bears, an Exotic Animal Sanctuary in Alpine California and to many other animal welfare and wildlife foundations local and around the world.  She has contributed to events and exhibitions of several Southern California Animal Shelters and non-profit environmental groups.  She is continually expanding her scope of outreach to benefit animals and our environment with her defending voice and has goals to organize events involving art, animals and education.

With an impressive exhibition record, ever more prestigious exhibition invites and involvement with regional solo shows and international traveling exhibitions, Kenda is getting her work seen in many high-profile environments and venues throughout California and the world.  With the ever expanding new series "Coat of Arrows", Kenda's work hangs together well as an entire story.  Seeing several of her works in the same space provides context and layers to illustrate the relationship of the paintings, the animals, the techniques, and messages. Her paintings are vibrant examples of expressive graffiti-like environments with stencil created wild animals. 

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3,890 is the estimated number of tigers living in the wild today, when in just 1990, there were an estimated 10,000 tigers.

Sick King (2016)
30"x 48"
Acrylic Media on Canvas


3 part hand-cut stencil of tiger, single bird stencils, acrylic pens, acrylic paint, spray paint


The King is sick - He coughs up thick blood and black tar.  Fiery coals from his insides, alight landscapes into infernos.  His chin is blackened and his teeth are oily, and blood drips from his mouth onto the white snow beneath.  In his red tormented eyes - he represents all animals struggling, to exist and to thrive on this earth of competition. 

But there is hope, the tiger is still alive, and strong with nature's fury behind him.  Burning coals turn to black birds that fly off in hope for a better life and beyond the silvery smoke is a hint of blue sky.
 

Spotted Thunder (2017)

88”x 64” on four canvasses

Acrylic Media on Canvas

3 part hand-cut stencil of horse, single spot and hill stencils, acrylic pens, acrylic paint, spray paint

 

This painting of a horse represents an achievement of mine, the largest three part stencil to date and the tallest painting yet.  The horse is near life-sized and illustrates to me the power of a painted animal – relative to its actual dimensions. 

 

Like many of my works, this piece began from a spark of information, an article about Native American Peoples and their beautiful nature-derived names.  As I heard the name “Spotted Thunder”, an image was immediately formulated, a white and silvery horse, with flat designs of spots across the surface.  The image in my mind’s eye was achieved with many complicated visual elements. Depth is achieved in the flowing clouds, small distant hills at the bottom and the pose of the running horse, but flatness becomes dominant in the way the spots of various silver blues, geometrically organize across the surface.  The three part stencil further complicates the feeling of depth and flatness as the horse has been reduced to only three tones in its form.  Movement is emphasized not only in the horse’s flowing mane and its mid-step, but in the staggered canvasses, leaning toward the direction the horse is traveling.  Finally, a reference back to the original idea is resonant in the hand painted circle around the eye, like the horses of many Native American Tribes, painted before battle.

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Crosses (2017)

48”x 30”"

Acrylic Media on Canvas

3 part hand-cut stencil of coyote, single stencils, acrylic pens, spray paint, acrylic paint

 

The Coyote  - My spirit animal - tricky and intelligent, crafty and opportunistic.  This complex animal walks a fine line of hate and reverence among people in our country.  They exist in the back-country, but prevail in our suburbs.  Although they eat mostly fruit and vegetables (80%), they are despised for eating our livestock on our farms, cats and small dogs in our neighborhoods. 

 

In this painting I wanted to show the duality of the many myths and truths that surround these amazingly successful creatures.  They walk the spirit world of many cultures, possessing strength, cunning, intelligence and primitive life qualities.  This essence is celebrated with golden tones, moon like illumination, ephemeral landscapes and cloudy, light atmosphere.  In contrast, the physical coyote, upside down, stealthily paces our neighborhoods at night, seeking survival and opportunity.  Sharp edges of triangles and darkness surround the coyote, and its cool, shadowy landscape and features are hidden in twilight and indigo hills.

Coat of Arrows (2017)
78”x 36” on three canvasses
Acrylic Media on Canvas

 

4 part hand-cut stencil of pronghorn, various single stencils, acrylic pens, acrylic paint, spray paint

The Sonoran Pronghorn, the second fastest land mammal on earth, once common by the tens of thousands in the Western US and northern Baja Mexico was reduced to only 19 individuals.  Habitat loss, lack of access to water sources, and unrestricted hunting of these beautiful creatures are elements of this species’ struggle.  In my painting, I show the proud animal, with arrows hitting it from all sides, representing the constant challenges all animals face to survive today.  Each arrow indicates an element of detrimental human impact: like freeways constructed across their fields, suburbs built in their landscapes, hunting for their unusual horns, water diverted for communities far away, loss of healthy surrounding ecosystems and scarcity of the simple grasses required to raise and hide their fawns.  Dark triangles reflect the sharp damage humans cause to our environment, in often apathetic and greedy intentions.  Yet this Pronghorn stands strong, with a radiating heart that beats powerfully, with hope that we can restore a balance where all creatures belong on this planet with equal importance and dignity.

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SHARK | vital, ancient, intelligent, essential, pinnacle, perfect, deadly

 

INSPIRED BY THE DATA

11,417 sharks are killed by people per hour

An estimated 63 and 273 million sharks are killed per year

Since 2010 over 700 million sharks have been killed

This death rate is unsustainable

Shark Fin Trade is driven by wealthy Chinese buyers who serve the

fins in soup which is a cultural symbol of wealth and respect.

Sharks either die of suffocation or predation when their fins are sliced off

their backs with a hot knife and they are dumped back into the sea to perish.

Sea Shepherd Global | Shark Conservation Society  | Pew Environment Stop Shark Finning  | Sharkwater  | Humane Society International

700 Million (2017)

36”x 36”

Acrylic Media on Canvas

3 part hand-cut stencil of sharks, various single stencils, acrylic paint, spray paint

In this painting I chose to turn the ocean waters red with blood and death.  Sharks and zeros pile up at the bottom, representing the millions of sharks killed and discarded.  One floats near the top, upside down, to show that it too has been slaughtered and the square space of the canvas is crowded with the volume of dead animals.

 

I created the three layer hand-cut stencil and decided to leave the fins on the sharks for the purpose of recognition for the viewer.  Then I prepared the canvas, the red water, by layering watered down cadmium orange and cadmium red acrylic applied with large juicy brushes.  Paint was applied both on the ground and tilted at an angle to create drips.  Once dry, the stencils of the sharks and numbers were applied in stages with various metallic silver tones of spray paint to give them the shimmery feeling of their primitive shark skin reflected with light and water.  On top of the sharks, I applied white dashes of splattered paint with a horizontal whipping motion, to enhance bubbles and layers of water and to set the sharks back into the atmosphere instead of feeling like they were in front of the water.

 

Silvers are inspirations from the graffiti observed in Spain – I liked the ever changing quality of the metallics, sometimes shining brightly or dully, depending on the light source and the where the viewer stands.  Since then, I have used metallic spray paint colors in every single piece. 

Learn More
about this artist
Kenda Francis
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Stomping in LA (2018)

48"x 54” two canvasses

Acrylic Media on Canvas

4 part hand-cut stencil of rhino, single building stencils, acrylic pens, acrylic paint, spray paint

 

Rhinos are so important to me.  They are so beautiful and unique, gentle to their offspring, and solitary grazers of their domains.  They are unique with their big heads, cute toes, small eyes, and pointy fuzzy ears.  Although they are large, powerful and strong, they represent innocence and purity.  They go about their lives, just wanting to survive and thrive, eat well, sleep safely, grow, mate, and raise their young that they clearly adore.

 

Their horrendous, greedy, cruel deaths for their horns, leaving orphaned, traumatized baby rhinos to die alone and hungry represents one of the worst stories of humanity.  I am overwhelmed with guilt and sadness knowing that humans are responsible for the loss of the Northern White Rhino as a species and cannot comprehend how mankind values the horn of an animal over its entire living being. 

 

I wanted to create a powerful white rhino, seeking a bit of revenge over the humans that have re-written its story.  I chose to create a four layer stencil of a baby rhino, the actual size of young calf, and in my process, struggled to figure out where to place the rhino for a final image.  I wanted the work to be hopeful and to illuminate the rhino as a defiant, victorious and strong subject, not a victim.  Then an act of serendipity occurred.  As I was working on tracing and cutting the stencils, I visited Hollywood this last summer, with a friend.  I taped the stencils to the window of the rental house, and the city of Hollywood/Los Angeles was visible through the stencils.  It looked as if the rhino was walking over the tops of the buildings and an easy decision was made about how this piece would be executed.  Even the close-by telephone poles and wires that could be seen from the window’s view were included.

 

With a vision in my mind’s eye – I wanted to create a clean, smooth, California summer sky and a white, sparkly, metallic silver rhino, pure and handsome.  The City below and in the distance has elements of atmospheric perspective and lack of details in the horizon, but lots of bold tones of spray paint and drawn edges in the bottom foreground to indicate the busyness of the buildings and lights, and advertisements of LA.  Finally, I added the telephone pole and the power lines, some silver drips to add some action and a hint of orange spray at the bottom edge to make reference to the fires burning over most of California.