Ken Klopack in his art studio on Chicago's northwest side.

About the Artist

Ken Klopack has been teaching art in the Chicago Public Schools since 1971 when he received his B.A. in art education from Northeastern Illinois University. He earned a Master's Degree in Gifted Education in 1989 at Northeastern and also achieved a Type 75 Administrative Certificate from Northeastern in 1995. In 2005, Ken retired from CPS and currently works as an art education consultant and a visual artist in acrylics.

Ken has won several awards for his teaching, notably the Golden Apple Award and Kohl International Teaching Award. He was honored as the 1996 Elementary Art Teacher of the Year in Illinois by the Illinois Art Education Association.

Over the last 45 years, Ken has been active in the Chicagoland art scene in events such as the Gold Coast Art Fair and the Hyde Park Art Fair. He has judged painting in the Old Town Art Fair, Chicago's longest running art fair. He has exhibited his work at the New York Art Expo and Galerie Hamptons in West Hampton Beach, Long Island. He has had several solo shows and exhibits in many group shows at local galleries in the Chicago area.

Ken participated in Chicago's COOL GLOBES PROJECT in 2007. He was one of over one hundred artists invited to participate in creating a "Cool Globe". His globe, entitled The Intelligent Earth, was displayed along the lakefront near Navy Pier through the summer of 2007. The globe now resides on permanent loan at Jackson Language Academy, a Chicago Public School.

Klopack was a part-time faculty member of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in art education. Ken is also the Chicago Program Student Teacher Supervisor for Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.

Ken has been a political cartoonist since 1978. Ken's art is featured in the art publications Chicago Art Scene 2000, Crow Woods Publishing, and A Published Gallery, Inner Circle Publishing.

Ken is the author of Show Off Your Art and a contributing author to Best Classroom Practices: What Award-Winning Elementary Teachers Do.

Artist's Statement

My work provides glimpses of greatness in the people I portray. My art creates visually poetic slices of everyday life. I draw these bits of life from my experiences living in Chicago and the Midwest. The substantive nature of my characters comes from the interactions that make up the human circles of life. All people live, work and play in a personal framework, a circle of human sorts, sometimes struggling within those circles, at times flowing comfortably, or a combination of both.

I observe these circles as they connect, intertwine, and grow. I find these actions fascinating no matter how ordinary or trivial they seem to be. Building a narrative from these ideas into an original visual statement is a task that fulfills me as an artist.

I enjoy the challenge of this process, turning common players into heroes, depicting them in my world in a beautiful way, amplifying their significance, pride, courage, and human sensitivities.

My art has stylistic inventions in composition and form developed over the last 45 years that is uniquely my own. I have been influenced by the Regionalists such as Benton, Marsh, Motley and Bellows. Painting techniques and composition from that school of artists are definitive factors as I create my work.

Setting an atmosphere for the players on the canvas is a process I build into a “ visual puzzle of views ” that the observer must solve. However, I prefer the observer to decipher my view in a personal rather than objective manner. The narrative I create in my work allows the observer this freedom. The viewer relates his or her own personal experiences with what is happening in the work, which ties them emotionally and psychologically to the character(s), setting, or human situation(s). When one observes my work, I would like one to gain skills in perception and seeing things not noticed before about our daily existence. Being more astute and sensitive about what transpires day to day is lacking in human circles.  It is a discipline necessary for real human development and civilized life.

Edgar Degas said it simply,

One has only to look - I have invented nothing!

It is all there. My work challenges the viewer to see, to understand, to relate my visual narratives to one's own personal life experiences.

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