Keoni Carlson

Driven by a passion for Native Culture stories, legends and mythology, fine art carver Keoni re-imagines wood as woven and beaded basketry. Using sharpened steel, inks and organic dyes, he creates story-driven one-of-a-kind & limited edition, touchable illusions from his studio nestled in the shadow of Colorado’s Pikes Peak . Following careers as a writer, photographer, and art director for both automotive and technology companies, business-world retirement in 2017 allowed Keoni at age 66 the time and space to explore a heart-felt passion for wood, lathe-turning and contemporary art. “Illusion carving” as a style is seldom seen with wood as the medium. The artist works freehand, drawing from recollections and notebooks of tribal imagery once a Sugar Maple “canvas” has been shaped. Designs are burned at high temperatures onto the wood using a single, 1/8″ straight-line tool. It is not uncommon for artwork to require 25,000+ individual cuts/burns/colored cells to execute a design. Today, Keoni is among the very few excelling in the application of these rare techniques using wood as a means to interpret tribal stories – bringing to life distant memories, honored heritage and a reverence for our shared history. In keeping with his wife’s family tradition, the artist was gifted his Hawaiian name (Keoni), by his wife’s eldest uncle following marriage. As an artist, Keoni believes himself still very new born… just beginning his artistic journey. As tribal cultures explain, no artist nor artwork should be made perfect: for we are but children exploring. Perfection is reserved for the Great Spirit; ours is to strive and reflect. Wood is a medium that adds voice to the fine art narrative. It delights and provides unexpected opportunities for conversation. “Listen well…”, tribal elders would teach; “wood and the natural world will always speak…”

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Colorado Springs, CO