“To be able to free oneself from the construct of the adult mind. To be childlike in experimentation and utilize one’s creativity as a tool to learn and heal throughout a lifetime.”
Aunia Kahn is a creative entrepreneur, multi-faceted, exhibited and awarded artist/photographer, graphic/web designer at Auxilium Haus Design, a podcast host at the Auxilium Haus Podcast and the Create & Inspire Podcast, an author of several published projects through various houses, as well as a teacher and an inspirational speaker.
Aunia Kahn was born and raised in Michigan and currently resides in Oregon. Her life as a young person was fairly challenging, however, creativity on multiple levels helped her considerably through those tough younger years. She was a very curious child, who asked too many questions and loved to talk and connect with as many people as she could. She loved human beings. As a child, that kind of behavior could get you kidnapped, and she was always just one step away from being whisked off in a van - forever. Not much has changed as an adult.
As a child, Aunia Kahn adored playing outside in the woods, climbing trees, playing catch and ghost in the graveyard, swimming in lakes, scraping knees, making tree forts and making dirt-stone-leaf soups for her playmates. She did not make them eat it, they did it willingly. She also dug the library. You know, that place you
went to before "Google" existed to find the answers to the universe. Stacks of books would come home with her, and often she acquired late fees, not because she was lazy or a bastard child of society, it was because Aunia Kahn just enjoyed them so much. She used literature and stories to escape the atrocities of the world. She also loved to draw, sing, stand on her head and yell & "mom, mom, look at me", as she ignored her and watched her afternoon soap operas. At least she did not watch Jerry Springer. Often, Aunia Kahn played teacher with her huge swivelling blackboard and her stuffed animals as her model students. Being creative whether outside or inside was paramount to her survival and still is today. Oh yeah, Aunia Kahn also loved GI Joe and Thundercats - yes, she was an 80's kid.
Currently, Aunia Kahn loves animals, Prussian blue, art, plants, psychology, neuroscience, collecting 3000 books for her home library, all types of design, miracles, hummingbirds, collecting art, and life in general.
Aunia Kahn’s art is nothing shy of mesmerizing and alluring. The sentiment found in each piece is
easily identifiable and somehow relatable. Although most of her images are particularly inspired by her long-term illness, they allow for the rest of us to sit face to face with and consider our own journeys and possibly our own demons. All of this, at times difficult, introspection is wrapped up in
Aunia’s beautiful and seductive creations. Everything, from the imagery to the color palette is psychologically and aesthetically fascinating.
Q. Tell us about your particular style and how you came to it.
A. My style came upon me by mere accident. Even though I was creative in my younger years, when I
entered college and the working world, creativity moved far into the recesses of my mind. I was encouraged to go out and participate in society, in the most common way young adults are encouraged to do so. I went to college for psychology and worked in the graphic and web design industry.
A few years later my world came crashing down and I became very ill. Unfortunately, I had to drop
out of college, quit my job and my life came to a halt. I saw numerous doctors that brushed me off, telling me it was "all in my head". It was a very lonely time. It is hard to garner support when what is wrong with you is invisible.
In this, I turned to art and creativity again, just as I did when I was younger, as salvation. It was one of the only things that kept me going on this planet for the next 17 years without answers and minimal support. I started as a painter who moved into the digital world due to severe allergies to all mediums. My work is typically portraiture, with myself as the primary subject while I worked out the feelings of loneliness, isolation, pain, frustration, and the hope I carried through those years. The work is a juxtaposition of light and dark and in the early years, it was much darker than it is now. My work has become a lot lighter since I finally received a diagnosis in 2017. The style is also a visual journal of my life experiences and the symbolism runs deep for me.
Q. Tell us about some of the highlights of your artistic career?
A. My work has been presented in over 300 exhibitions in over 10 countries, at places such as San Diego Art Institute, Los Angeles Center for Digital Art, iMOCA, St. Louis Art Museum, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Mitchell Museum and the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art. I have also been featured on podcasts like Entrepreneur on Fire which has 70 million downloads & 1 million monthly listens. My work has also been featured on a limited edition wine bottle at the Le Bourgeois Vineyard in Missouri.
I have curated several internationally recognized books and projects such as: Moon Goddess (Modern Eden Gallery) exhibit, Tarot Under Oath (Last Rites Gallery), Lowbrow Tarot Project (La Luz De Jesus Gallery and the Witch’s Oracle and the Witch’s Oracle 2nd Edition As a published author; Silver Era Tarot, Inspirations for Survivors Oracle, Obvious Remote Chaos, Minding the Sea: Inviting the Muses Over for Tea, Avalanche of White Reason, XIII: The Art of Aunia Kahn, as well as these forthcoming projects; An Epidemic of Retrospective, Disintegrating Stars and the Silver Era Tarot Technicolor.
My work has been featured in numerous magazines and publications; I have been honored to have won several awards as well as being a part of several permanent collections.
Q. What role does the artist have in society?
A. I think the role of the artist in society is to do what they love and meld into the process of what feels best for them. If those experiencing the work can inadvertently find hope, connect, and/or experience catharsis from that, that is a bonus.
I come from a place that art is for the artist first and the experiencer second. I know that is not always the case for artists, but that is how I experience working and I know many others do as well. So it just feels intuitive for me to believe that the role of the artist (or creator, musician, etc.) is to come to the work first and be with their work and then reach out to the community in solidarity with their expression of self, if and when they feel comfortable.
Also, I feel that if artists want to use their voice for things that they feel passionate about, more power to them. Art is free speech and should be used.
Q. What’s your best childhood memory?
A. Playing outside. Nature has been my true home and inspiration for the imaginary world that has
influenced my art as well as all the adventure life is as we grow into adulthood.
Q. As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?
A. I initially wanted to be a surgeon and cut out people's cancer, but then decided I wanted to have a family and that I could not be as focused and active in my family if I had such a serious job. I am a dedicated person and would have taken that job very seriously and I did not feel I could balance both well.
Then I moved into the direction of a therapist, but I found I was too sensitive to the tragedies and trauma of other human beings. I have no issue being supportive, caring, and helpful to those around me but to work in that field daily would weigh me down. I am so thankful for the people who work in
both of those fields.
Q. Do you remember the first art you made? What was it and how old were you?
A. Yes, my mother never let me forget it. I was around the age of 5. The canvas was a brand new bedspread my mother had just purchased with her very little income and the artist was me. I painted away on the light-colored bedspread with fire engine red nail polish. I started early. I also loved to
draw on the walls.
Q. How and when did you first become seriously interested in art?
A. When the illness took over my life, art became my refuge but nothing serious. Then one day, I met this wonderful man by the name of Roger Popwell at a park for an art event with some kids. It was one of the very rare occasions that I left my house due to my illness.
Roger was a photographer and asked to photograph me for the local paper and after that, we formed a friendship. He was also an artist, so we shared work back and forth. He was one of the few people that saw my darker pieces, since I was very shy in the early stages of my work. He encouraged me to submit to art shows and even helped me with that process, back in the day when you submitted slides.
After winning a few awards and being in some shows, I found that in this illness, creating art and connecting to others has a bigger purpose, more than just pure survival. I started to feel a sense of purpose and worth and I started taking my career seriously.
Q. What does your art aim to express?
A. The true aim and purpose of my art is to express what I need to in the moment of creation and perhaps leave a legacy that I lived on this planet. I am moved to create it, and there is nothing more to it than that. It just feels right to do it.
Q. If you could work with any artist (past or present) who would it be?
A. There is no specific person or artist, just being able to work alongside any other creative or artist is super special to me.
Q. What is your favorite artwork of all time?
A. I really can't say. I am in love with something new daily. There is just too much art out there for me to pin down one thing that is my favorite.
Q. What inspires you?
A. I am influenced by everything from art, music, books, film, poetry, nature, voice, challenges, and life experiences. There is always something new to be inspired by. Being in awe of the world around me helps me always evolve in the way I connect with my desire to create.
Q. What medium(s) do you work with?
A. I am drawn to so many mediums, my interest just falls into whatever medium I need to use at the moment in order to express myself. I work in digital, mixed media, photography, printmaking, collage, videography, music, jewellery, etc. I have this deep desire to learn new things, so I am always experimenting.
Q. What personality trait has gotten you in the most trouble?
A. Brutal honesty. I am diplomatic, yet not severely filtered. However, not everyone likes that.
Q. What have you had to sacrifice for this career?
A. My career would not be present without my illness, so in a way, my health was sacrificed. I know that the health crisis came before, but I would not be here now if I was not compromised.
Q. Is the artistic life lonely, what do you do to counteract it?
A. Life for me in ways has been very lonely due to my illness, I am not sure if it is the artist life or perhaps my very particular situation. I have been accustomed to being housebound, alone and with little contact with the outside world before now. However, I don't often feel lonely. I rather enjoy being alone and have had to adapt over the years.
Q. Apart from your art, what do you love doing?
A. I love to play with my dogs, read, learn, constantly experimenting and expanding with creative outlets, and spending time with loved ones.
Q. What is your philosophy in matters of art?
A. To be able to free oneself from the construct of the adult mind. To be childlike in experimentation and utilize one’s creativity as a tool to learn and heal throughout a lifetime.
Q. What does "success" mean to you?
A. Success is relative. Each day I have found it to be a success if one can learn something new, touch
the lives of others, and embrace what we have in the present and not become too entangled in the
future of goals and desires. Perhaps a simplistic answer but deeply true to my internal
understanding of what success truly means to me. Sometimes the success is as little as getting out of
bed in the morning. We all have to measure what success is to us personally. What we choose to
believe as success is our choice.
Q. What are the biggest things you've learned in life thus far?
A. The biggest thing for me is that I am lucky to be alive. I have learned so much through years of
illness, so many things, that there is not enough paper to put into words the things it has taught me.
The value of life, going after your dreams, taking big risks that are at least somewhat calculated, so
you are not acting out of ignorance. That you will never make everyone happy no matter how kind,
thoughtful, self-aware, gentle, understanding you are ... someone will always have an issue with you.
That person can only meet you where they are in life and they might not be able to meet you where
you are. Accept that and move on.
Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given, and by who?
A. There are a couple of things that have really impacted me over the years in the realm of advice. First,
Mark Manson's book "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a
Good Life", was really on point. The book was funny, raw, and honest, and it’s a fantastic read for anyone going after their passion or needing a little boost.
Second, I really love the book "Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha", by Tara Brach. This book was a really wonderful anchor about how to embrace life and roll with it.
Life will never be perfect; it will be a beautiful mess and it is how you experience it and how you interpret those experiences that matter.
A few other things are, in list form since I like lists:
1. Be grateful daily for the little things. Like waking up not dead for starters.
2. No one owes you anything. No one. Not your parents, spouse, friends, kids, job, or the world.
3. Each day could be your last, live it fully. Live in the now.
4. Drink water and don't forget to breathe. I hold my breath a lot, so perhaps that one is just for me.
Q. What advice would you give to the next generation?
A. That is a good and challenging question. Just do what you love, go after your joy, don't let judgment
affect you. Don't let family, society, or external influence alter your true nature and voice.