instagram: @kyle.choy
For details about purchasing work, email Kyle Choy at or contact him via his Instagram page @kyle.choy

About the artist.
I am an artist in Lincoln, Nebraska who primarily works in oil paint, though I have recently been incorporating three dimensional objects into my work. As a fan of portraiture, I couldn’t shake the unease that would occasionally creep in with viewing them. A presented subject, either oblivious or confrontational towards the gazes thrown their way, frozen in time. The canvas or panel acting like a window that is either peered into or glanced at while passing by. People lining up, clamoring just for a quick look and moving on while talking about what they just saw. Then, there’s the viewing of the audience, somebody watching somebody watching somebody. I’ve always felt that it’s… weirdly voyeuristic? Creepily bizarre? It’s a room full of windows and I wonder if I was invited or showed up unannounced.

I find that feeling creeping into my current work. The leaves on the frames serve to break down that idea stuck in my head of a simple window. We view these people through the leaves as they wander through the woods, and our worlds are bridged and blended together. The subjects are almost always turned away denying the viewer. Sometimes, it’s to shut out prying eyes and invoke that same feeling of watching someone watch something. Other times, the audience is invited in and are allowed to peer over their shoulders as if part of the group. If the figure is turned towards the viewer, it then becomes confrontational but is still obscured denying the satisfaction of a full view. I want the viewer to think about their gaze and become more than a passive onlooker when looking in.

Studio view.

Studio view.

Who or what are your artistic influences and how have they impacted you or your work?
My influences range through a variety of media but they all usually share the same idea of storytelling. Though I’m a visual artist, the idea of expanding into other media has always interested me. I even write out story summaries, ideas, and outlines when I’m not painting in the hopes of writing a book or screenplay or making a comic. Even so, I’ve never actually incorporated anything I’ve written into my paintings, ha-ha. It’s almost like I write and pluck out objects, ideas, and characters to use them somewhere else, like some weird alternative universe with tangential stories.

I’ve always looked up to visual storytellers like Robyn O’Neil, Giordanne Salley, Amy Cutler, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Nicole Eisenman, and Henry Darger; they’ve all mastered the “show, don’t tell” method of storytelling. I’ve also always been a huge fan of artists who repeat imagery and have amazing mark making like Jenny Saville, Andrew Salgado, Kim Dorland, Louis Fratino, and Peter Doig. I dream of loosening up my strokes like them and started to for a bit, but my current apartment studio situation has relegated me to much smaller works than I’m used to, ha-ha.

I really want my work to feel like how various albums/musicians sound; like “Strange Trails” and “Vide Noir” by Lord Huron, anything by the Chromatics, Timber Timbre, Nick Cave, the Raveonettes. Anything with that strange, foreboding, slightly ominous and dreamy sound? Music plays a huge role in both setting the mood for the work and for myself in making it.


Do you have any “rituals” that you have to do before, after, or during your art making to keep you creating or put you in the mood to create work?
Before I start for the day there are three key things I do: 1. Coffee. Always coffee, though tea is acceptable too. Really, anything to drink while working. 2. Check the plants because I’ll probably be ignoring them for most of the day and maybe I didn’t check them last time so if I don’t for SURE do it THIS time who knows when I’ll ACTUALLY do it, ha-ha. 3. Headphones on and music up. As I said before, it’s a huge tone setter for my work and process. Heck, might as well link my playlist to help set the mood?

I usually like to work on many things at once both to combat drying time but also to not get too bored with anything. Like, if I leave something sitting for multiple sessions without working on it, it’s obvious I’m not that into it. So, I put it away and pull out a blank canvas. Maybe I’ll come back to that piece later, maybe I won’t! Maybe it’ll resurface months later and I’ll be inspired by it! That’s all part of the fun!

After I finish something, there’s a period of general media consumption and writing. Seeing, reading, hearing other people’s experiences or stories plays a huge part in how I view mine, so it’s important to set time aside for it but not becoming too engrossed that I don’t start anything else, ha-ha.

What is a positive impact that art has made on the local community that you have witnessed? What would you like to see more of?
Art is one of the few things that doesn’t cost money to enjoy. There’s no real barrier keeping anyone from viewing it, unless large crowds in confined spaces freak you out (guilty!). It’s particularly nice in Lincoln because you get to see artists from all walks of life: students, graduates, professionals, hobbyists, they all present varying unique perspectives into making and showing art and ideas. There’s just a little something for everyone!

I honestly wish that owners of the empty buildings in the downtown area would at least be open to using their spaces for music or art or SOMETHING instead of leaving them unoccupied. Without the likes of Parrish Studios and Tugboat Gallery, the art scene probably wouldn’t nearly be as big as it currently is. If more property owners used their spaces in a similar fashion instead of, oh I don’t know, selling them to create more upper college/condo living with lower retail spaces that are never occupied because of the exorbitant rent hike that comes with building an entirely new empty building, who knows how amazing the art scene in Lincoln could become!

For details about purchasing work, email Kyle Choy at or contact him via his Instagram page @kyle.choy