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 Rita Marie Kepner  (1944 - )

About: Rita Marie Kepner


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Lived/Active: Washington      Known for: sculpture-figure, drawing

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Rita Marie Kepner
An example of work by Rita Marie Kepner
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following is from the artist:

Born -- 11/15/1944 Binghamton, New York, USA
Current studio -- Nordland WA USA
Art works of people - figure studies, in drawing and sculpture
Realistic, portrait, and abstract bronze, clay, wood, stone sculptures
drawings -- mostly conte crayon. Sketches.

City of Seattle Washington, USA, City of Zalaegerszeg, Hungary, Warsaw, Poland; Znin, Poland; Seattle Public Library; Kenmore WA Public Library; Washington Mutual Bank; Lowell School, Seattle Children's Hospital

REFERENCE BOOKS: Who's Who in American Art, Women Artists of
America II


Rita Kepner was born in Binghamton New York, in 1944. Her Polish -American parents nurtured her early talent with children's lessons at the Robeson Memorial Art Center beginning about age 10. As she matured, she decided on a whole-life approach to art and in 1966, she became the first woman in her family to complete a college degree.

She earned a BA in Liberal Arts with a sculpture major from Harpur College, State University of New York at Binghamton. Professors Ed Wilson, Charles
Eldred, and Kenneth Lindsay mentored and encouraged her interest in
figurative arts, and at the same time urged her study in the abstract arts
of New York City of the 1960s. As a student, she "turned slides" for every
art history course taught at Harpur College and spent time in Europe
visiting every possible sculpture done by Michelangelo and Henry Moore.

Moving to Seattle, Washington in the 1970s her career flourished. She did
many abstract carvings based on the human figure, now in major collections
in the Pacific Northwest. Pieces can be found at Seattle Center, Seattle
WA, (titled "Balance" Seattle Public Library, (titled "Rough to smooth, hard
to soft, man to woman - in transition is unity") Kenmore Public Library,
Lowell School, Washington Mutual Bank. In addition, during the 1970s, she
carved major public works in Znin Poland and Zalaegerszeg Hungary, under
international invitational programs.

Her intense experiences working with artists who, at that time, were "behind
the iron curtain" shaped her already strong, social views that the people of
all educational, social, and economic levels needed art in their everyday

After her son was born in 1980, she insisted in weaving her art into her
world community. She had exhibits of sculptures and drawings in Warsaw
Poland, and in Wiesbaden Germany. She also joined Volunteers in Service to
America (VISTA) where in addition to helping low income parents in Seattle,
she also wrote and earned grant funding for art in public places, for other

In 1984, a serious sailing accident tore up parts of her left hand (she also
has a Captain's license for passenger carrying motor and sail vessels up to
50 tons) leaving her depressed and unable to do sculpture for nearly 2
years. She diverted her creative energy to founding the Bainbridge Island
Arts and Humanities Council and to writing about the arts in Seattle.

With a semi-functional left hand, and financial pressure, she eventually
took a job as photojournalist, writer, and editor and worked for the US Army
Corps of Engineers. That led to a position as editor of an American
newspaper in Germany. Living again in Europe, her original enthusiasm for
figure studies reemerged. Most of her sculptures and drawings in the late
1980s and 1990s are realistic studies, focused on telling the human story
through art.

In 1993, still blending human study with her art; she accepted a special
appointment as reservist on a national disaster response team (intermittent,
on-call) with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). In 1998, she earned a MA degree in Management from City University, Seattle WA. She
continues to study people in intense situations, as a disaster responder and
as an artist.

She completed the sculpture shown with this biography in 2000. It is a
portrait of the tribal spiritual leader called "Medicine Man". This piece
belongs to the Cowlitz Indian Nation in Washington State.

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