Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Ken Kusterer had just learned the typesetter’s trade in 1963 when he entered his local college, Yale University, to study graphic design. Civil rights, anti-poverty, and anti-war activism delayed his graduation for years, and led him to think that the study of social change skills was more urgent than art.
After an almost 40-year career teaching, writing, and advocating for economic and social change in Latin America and the United States with his wife Faith, he suffered a meningioma that ended his research and writing days.
Art seemed more important again, and the nature of his art -- which had always been linear, graphic, or architectural – was transformed.
Since he began to show in mid-2008, his work has won a blue-ribbon Skelly Award at the annual Rehoboth Art League show, and a juried place in the annual Chatauqua show in Tennessee. He is a member of the Delaware Shore Artists Group, and is one of the best-selling artists in the Rehoboth Art League member gallery. Since October, 2010, he is one of 8 artists represented by Artworx 19971, the virtual gallery at http://artworx19971.com
Some of my paintings deliberately contrast attractive pictures with unattractive subjects, such as the local poultry factory system. I have painted many expressionistic portraits of “Heroes of Human Liberation,” such as the prize-winning portrait of Harry Hay and his partner. I paint struggle paintings, such as “The Long Hard March Down Freedom’s Road,” which was shown widely and now hangs in Boston. I also paint ikons for meditation, and visualizations of idealized “places for the mind to go.” Often I use written and visual references from the latino experience.
All of my work is characterized by strong colors, thick multi-layered paint, and clearly visible brush strokes or knife marks. Frequently narrative words are included in the design. Contrarily, I often texture details with a knife, and paint large spaces with brushes or a sponge. Texture - its depth, emphasis, and place - is always a conscious decision.
My paintings hang in government agencies in Washington and Dover, in non-profit agencies’ spaces, and in private collections throughout the eastern U.S.