Born in 1981 in Lansing, Michigan, USA
Lives and works in San Francisco, USA

Koak

Koak creates emotionally charged portraits of female figures. The artist imbues her figures with a sense of agency and inner life to challenge patriarchal views of the feminine. Engaging hierarchies of gender as well as form, Koak interrogates commonly held cultural assumptions defining women as passive objects of desire. Drawing on the visual vocabulary of comics, the exquisite technique Koak is known for allows her mark-making to appear beautifully effortless, but is in fact the result of a rare type of generous and hand-made master craftsmanship.

education

2016
-  MFA in Comics, California College of the Arts, San Francisco, USA

2011
-  BFA in Individualized Studies, California College of the Arts, San Francisco, USA

solo shows

2022
-  Forthcoming exhibition, Perrotin, Hong Kong

2020
Return to Feeling, Altman Siegel, San Francisco, CA, USA

2019
Holding Breath, Union Pacific, London, UK

2018
Breaking the Prairie, Ghebaly Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Seed for Planting, Walden, Buenos Aires, Argentina

2017
Bathers, Alter Space, San Francisco, CA, USA

group shows

2021
New Time: Art and Feminisms in the 21st Century, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive | BAMPFA, Berkeley, CA, USA
Traces, Haverkampf Galerie, Berlin, Germany
Women on WomenDon’t Call Me Muse!, Collaborations, Copenhagen, Denmark
Triple Burner, Union Pacific, London, UK

2020
100 Drawings from Now, The Drawing Center, New York, NY, USA

2018
The Larkin Showroom, Vacation, New York, NY, USA
Liquid Dreams, Ghebaly Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Palo Santo, Ratio 3, San Francisco, CA, USA
American Fine Arts—Part II: On the Tip of My Tongue, BBQLA at Cloaca Projects, San Francisco, CA, USA
You Are Who I Think You Are, American Medium, New York, NY, USA

2017
Female Gaze, Museum of Sex, New York, NY, USA
Therianthropy, Laura Bartlett Gallery, London, England, USA
Teeter Totter, BBQLA, Los Angeles, CA, USA
3. The Set, Et al. at Holiday Forever, Jackson Hole, WY, USA
On Elizabeth, Olsen Gruin, New York, NY, USA
Plucked, 100%, San Francisco, CA, USA

2016
The Weeping Line, Alter Space at Four Six One Nine, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Pleasures & Treasures, Ampersand Gallery & Fine Books, Portland, OR, USA
The Bad Case of the Uglies, Et al. etc., San Francisco, CA, USA

2015
It Does and It Doesn't, Alter Space, San Francisco, CA, USA

awards

2020
-  Eureka Fellowship, Fleishhacker Foundation, San Francisco, CA, USA

2018
-  Liquitex Residency, Minnesota Street Project, San Francisco, CA, USA

  • October 2021
    The New York Times — 6 PAGES

  • September 2021
    San Francisco Chronicle Datebook — 9 PAGES

  • April 2021
    Create! Magazine — 6 PAGES

  • May 2020
    The Potrero View — 3 PAGES

  • December 2018
    The Editorial Magazine — 5 PAGES

Extract from "New Time: Art and Feminisms in the 21st Century", published by University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, 2021.

by Claire Frost

Despite their graphic, comic-inspired style, Koak's paintings expand thematically far beyond the traditional boundaries of the medium as it has developed in the United States. Instead she draws on elements of Japanese and European animation in works that address societal expectations of women, in particular propriety and domestic labor. Working much larger than comic-book scale, Koak makes expansive canvases in which her simple but expressive lines stand out against a muted, Disneyesque color palette. The women she paints are deeply emotive, pushing female identity beyond the primary-colored narratives typically associated with the printed medium.