NEW YORK: A self-taught New York artist has taken advantage of the pandemic to create a wide array of dioramas that depict urban Brooklyn scenes in addition to a host of other more rural settings.
Aaron Winston Kinard worked for Barnard College in Manhattan for decades. About four years ago, he elevated a lifelong artistic flair into a passion for creating ornate dioramas.
A diorama is a miniature model of a scene depicted using three-dimensional objects set against an artistic background.
Kinard’s house is like a mini-museum of his works.
When creating a work, Kinard spends several days painting elements such as bricks. He draws from a range of forms, from 3D printing to airbrushing to complement his works.
When the pandemic hit, he no longer had to travel across town to work, which gave him more time to pursue his artistic project.
“We’ve been in virtual or semi-lockdown for almost three years now, and during that time I had to make a decision,” he said in an interview at the Brooklyn home that he shares with his partner. “While I was in lockdown, was I going to sit on the couch and watch TV and drink beers until it was over? Or was I going to show creativity ?”
He followed and addressed themes that were on everyone’s mind during the shutdown.
Themes included urban streetscapes, poverty, homelessness and Black Lives Matter protests.
Kinard, a Washington, DC native who has lived in New York since the late 1970s, had no formal artistic training other than a few classes at Barnard and the New York-based International Center of Photography.
He says he relies on experimentation and instructions on YouTube videos.
“When I’ve looked at a lot of thumbnails or videos about it, you see guys making trains and stations, small towns, and it’s still rural and it still reflects white America, for the most part” , did he declare.
“And even though it’s beautiful and they have talent, it wasn’t something I related to. When I tried to scan the internet, there were also very few black artists doing this type of work, and I wanted to represent.”