American Kaitlin Kraemer grew up playing a variety of instruments, taking dance lessons, and trying her hand at painting courses.
“While I’ve not descended from a family of creatives per say, my parents have a great appreciation for the arts,” she says. “I suppose my folks recognized my passion for the arts at a young age and did everything they could to foster that.”
A full-time artist whose solo exhibit “Confessions Intimes” is at the Monaco Yacht Club this week, Kaitlin originally decided to major in Anthropology and minor in Studio Fine Arts. “This stemmed from this innate passion for creating, as well as my desire to understand human behaviour – why we do what we do, think how we think, love what we love – and how many of these traits and evolutions are quite similar cross-culturally,” she explains.
An opportunity to study in Aix-en-Provence came at the recommendation of her undergraduate arts professor and mentor, Walter Hatke, who believed she was an ideal candidate for this immersive painting program. “He strongly encouraged me to apply to the summer semester course at The Marchutz School of Fine Arts. The experience honed my French language skills and really legitimised my own ability to see myself as an artist,” she recounts.
That summer of 2007 she fell in love with painting, as well as with the South of France, which influenced her permanent move back to France in early 2018. “I decided to return to a part of the world that I love, to continue to do what I love – in the sunshine, with a glass of rosé. As a full-time as an artist, you have the unique ability to live and work from anywhere.”
The move, she says, definitely wasn’t a seamless or easy transition although being proficient in French helped, as does being an extrovert. “There have been many ups and downs, but that is par for the course when you’re an expat. I wouldn’t change any of it – except, perhaps, having my family closer. Being so geographically distant from them has been the only downside.”
Kaitlin has been painting regularly for 15 years now, but didn’t become a full-time artist until 2017. “The decision was one part mind-numbingly terrifying, the other part, an absolute necessity. I woke up one morning and realised how stuck and unhappy I felt in my seemingly ‘perfect’ life – I had a good job, a husband, lived in a nice apartment, but was fundamentally unhappy and unsatisfied. So I did something about it.”
Within six months, she changed everything about her life: she gave notice at work, filed for divorce, left London where she had been living for four years and moved back into her parents’ house in the US, and enrolled on a year-long rigorous graduate arts program at Tufts University.
“I look back at that time now and it both shocks and thrills me. I kind of can’t believe I had the courage to do it, but am incredibly grateful that I followed my instinct and made it happen. It’s not been an easy journey, but the fact that I’ve done it – that I wake up every morning passionate about and proud of what I do – is definitely my greatest achievement to date,” she admits.
Kaitlin, who has had shown her work in Boston, London and on the Riviera, was given the opportunity to exhibit in the IQOS Showroom at the Yacht Club through the Monaco-based consulting agency, Highlights. “I was put in contact with them through a mutual friend, and worked with their team over many months and pandemic-related setbacks to organise this exhibit.”
In normal times, Kaitlin would have held a vernissage but obviously this was not possible under the Covid guidelines. However, she emphasises that everyone is welcome to visit her exhibit this week (up to four people at a time, with a terrace to accommodate those waiting) at IQOS, just steps from the Wine Palace. “There are only four days left so please pop by this week to have a look, up close and in person,” she encourages.
Kaitlin wants to inspire others with her art and her story – to show people that almost anything is possible if you want it badly enough – and “that through chaos, there is beauty.” But finding beauty in the last twelve months of Covid have been incredibly difficult for her.
“I am an eternal optimist, and have tried to keep as busy and productive as possible, but I’ve found it more challenging than ever this past year. My younger sister, whom I was very close with, passed away in a tragic accident in July. I still find it incredibly hard to talk about.
“My family and I have experienced a loss that no family should ever experience, during a time when gathering and consoling one another has been nearly impossible. It has been horrific and heart-breaking, to say the very least.
“I’m still not a point where I can share these emotions in my art but I carry my sister in my head and heart each and every day, now more so than ever, and am trying to live my life stronger and bolder and better, for both of us.”
Visit Kaitlin Kraemer’s “Confessions Intimes” exhibition at the Monaco Yacht Club’s IQOS showroom until February 6, from 10 am to 7 pm.