Kirsten Beitler, The Hidden Life Lessons Behind Her Art

Kirsten Beitler’s experiences are far and wide, and that’s the epitome of a great life. The plethora of emotions evoked while getting to know Kirstens work are many. Aimed to share life experiences through humor, a few of her mottos include finding the beauty without ignoring the ugly,  and celebrating the strange.  Kirsten aims to make her work accessible to a wide variety of people.

Tell us about you and how you ended up in St George, UT?
I’m a Southern Utah native. My family moved here when I was seven.

Tell us about your art and what gives you inspiration?
Most of my work is autobiographical in nature. I use art to process my experiences. Art also allows me to celebrate the things I find most enriching; the beauty and struggle of nature and humanity. Humor is also very important to me and I enjoy doing pieces about things that make me smile. As an illustrator at heart, I am versatile in a wide variety of mediums and chose the medium that I feel will best highlight the subject.

What about life experiences can be translated most in art ?
The human face and body are infinitely expressive. They hold all our experiences and if I can get those experiences onto the canvas, a conversation with the viewer can begin and something new and healing can be created.

How does your art specifically find beauty without ignoring the ugly?
You can’t have beauty without ugly. Surface level niceties hold no interest for me. The best things I’ve learned about myself have come out of some of the hardest experiences I’ve had. Not that I search for the ugly things in life, but that they are there and to ignore them is disingenuous and harmful to living as well as to art.

What brings you joy about connecting with others through art?
When someone can see a piece I’ve done and feel not so alone, whether that’s laughing together, crying together, celebrating or grieving together, an energy that is bigger and better than both of us is created and that transformation is a powerful thing. It’s a joyful thing.

What is your favorite go-to meal?
As a busy, working single mom, anything I don’t have to cook!

You share about celebrating the strange. What does that mean to you?
I’ve never really felt like I fit in. I always felt a little out there and a little extra. But hiding those things didn’t fix that feeling. When I started showing more of my genuine self, I found that I was not the only weirdo out there. Be yourself. You’ll find your people. We are “fearfully and wonderfully made” and different on purpose to be exactly what the world needs, exactly where we are.

How does humor play a part in your art?
My day job is making signs for Harmons Grocery so I have the opportunity to make shopping a fun experience for people every day. In my personal work I deal with a lot of heavy subjects but I also enjoy doing work that brings me joy and humor is something that does that. There are only a few times in my life when things have been so bad that I haven’t been able to find something to laugh about. Laughter is a powerful healing medicine.

What is one thing most people wouldn’t know about you?
I try to be fairly open about my life, but people from the outside looking in may be surprised by how much energy I put into battling depression and anxiety and how much grief that brings up on a daily basis.

Tell us about your racial equality work and what we should know about how we can help.
I always say you don’t know what you don’t know until you know, and that’s how it’s been with so many issues for me. I thought I knew about racial inequities until I became the mom of two black/biracial kids. I hope everyone will do themselves the favor of admitting that they don’t really know what they think they know and allowing themselves to listen and believe when someone who comes from a different background than them shares their lived experience. I Follow BIPOC changemakers and leaders on social media sites, not to argue, but to listen and learn, and put in the work to study the history of things that bring up resistance inside myself and allow myself the grace to change my mind when I come up against truths I may not have known. I try to step up and stand out when I see and hear things that uphold damaging paradigms. The biggest damages to my children have come from their peers here in Southern Utah at the places where they should be safest, church and school. I beg you to teach your kids to be respectful and compassionate about differences, be mindful of the media you consume and how you speak about different racial, religious, and political groups and ideologies at home because your children are listening, and above all, to do your own healing work. Integrating and caring for our broken parts, learning about our nervous systems and how to regulate and express our emotions in healthy ways, and taking responsibility for our actions is a prerequisite for being the kind of person who has the capacity to heal the wounds in the world around us.

Where can we find your art?
Check my website for any current or upcoming shows. You can see my sign work at the Santa Clara Harmons and starting May 15th, I’ll be at the St. George Harmons.

Do you do private group classes if we want to do a night of art with our friends?

Yes! I have a limited availability for private classes and paint parties in your home or though studio spaces like Art Provides in downtown St. George. I also offer individual and group non-clinical art therapy sessions for adults and children to supplement personal therapy, team building experiences, and retreat-type settings. These sessions can help with anything from trauma processing to helping with motor skills issues and delays.

What are your social media handles and websites?