Kirsten Aaboe

Making art in various media has been a vital part of my life since high school in the late 1960s.  I was first drawn to drawing, the medium I've been most recently focusing my energy in.  My awareness and dedication to the enhancement and articulation of the female voice and spirit has grown over many years. My love for and curiosity about artistic traditions, both formalist and conceptual, has been abiding. The personal tragedies of my life have opened my heart to those often considered 'the other,' which continually deepening understanding then has led to involvement and collaboration with creative women in many genres. I knit, I sew, I draw, paint, cook, and attempt to relate compassionately with all beings, in whatever way forges a connection.

I have lived in the San Diego region since I came from New York in 1975. I met my first husband in Manny Farber's painting class at UCSD.  I went on to gain a BFA and MFA from there, where my master's thesis focused on painted images of domesticity in Mexico. I renounced the formal gallery space for my master's show, choosing the external walls of Mandeville to show the paintings. Women have been excluded and marginalized in so many ways for so long in so many cultures, while at the same time being the core and heart of the family. Ritual has always imbued domesticity, since the acts involved with caring for family are sacred.

I got sober in 1986, and have worked with so many women through the years who struggle to overcome the ravages of substance abuse, sexism, self-hatred, body image conflicts, societal norms, and isolation.  These are fundamental challenges to survival as a woman, as a feminist.  If overcome, the power and love available to share with other women is unlimited. Being a sober woman is the ground on which I stand now.

By invitation, I joined Las Comadres in the late 1980s. I was determined to help expose racism and sexism along the US/Mexico border, and this group engaged in the difficult and heart wrenching work of discussing first world privilege, feminist values, and mono- and bi-cultural female identity, as well as joining us together as friends, allies and creative collaborators. Around the time of my divorce and my mother's death, I also began collaborating with an iteration of the Border Arts Workshop to continue the cross-cultural work that living in this region demanded of aware and engaged creatives. Women's power and rage, folded into our nurturing and loving spirit expressed itself in my work in both groups. On one trip to the upstate New York region to put up a show at Hallwalls in Buffalo, the group engaged with folks who were working the cabbage fields during the work week, but playing music and sharing food at a local park on a Sunday. It was a delightful experience to make music together, using a language that transcended words.

I entered a 25-year career with the County of San Diego not too long after that trip, and for much of that time, took a hiatus from artmaking, taking a smattering of classes, making work intermittently, but primarily focused on bringing up my children and making a living as a facilitator and manager.  I retired in July of 2016, and have returned like a thirsty animal to making work that is primarily about women and power relations.  Art-making, feminism and politics, particularly as expressed in intersectional feminism, is particularly compelling now that I'm coming back to my visually creative roots. The Women's March in Washington that I attended, and the recent reconnection with Las Comadres women has been very rejuvenating.  I’ve found much-needed solace and comfort in my drawing sessions, regular and ongoing since retirement. Currently being a member of FIG - the Feminist Image Group - has opened my eyes even wider to the passion, intelligence and humor of women in the arts.

To see current and past work, here's my website URL: I see myself as an activist feminist artist, making work that's concerned with power relations, which then often flows into male/female power struggles, as well as general issues of dominance/submission.  This awareness imbued my work at the County of San Diego, and has come through through my earlier and most recent work.  I am committed in a most basic way to equality, respect and fairness.  Cherishing our individual and collective natures as women is a strong thread that runs through my life. My creative work is all about enhancing, illuminating, embracing, and elevating the power of life - while actively resisting powers that divide or oppress - and trying to practice compassion and kindness toward all sentient beings..

M.F.A - University of California, San Diego - 1981
M.B.A - California State University, San Marcos - 1999