Kenda Francis

I was born and raised in East San Diego where I was fortunate to experience open spaces, wildlife as well as pets of many types. Responsibility for dogs, cats, rabbits, horses, birds and lambs sparked a respect and connection with nature and inspiring high school teachers encouraged an already growing interest in art and photography. My parents were endlessly supportive and I continued studying art and animals with a BA from SDSU in painting, printmaking and photography, an MA from CSU, Chico in painting, an AS in Zoology from College of the Redwoods in Eureka and two teaching credentials from National University. I have a full-time position as an art instructor in secondary education and in addition I offer adult art courses. I love to travel with my husband and friends, toting heavy camera equipment to primal spaces like Africa, Costa Rica, and Brazil to experience wild beauty around the globe and gather my own reference images and experiences for my work. These travels have ultimately influenced my admiration for this varied planet and the amazing people, cultures, and spaces that are so imperative to our quality of life. I am intensely driven to create art that asks my audience to face not only the supreme beauty of animals, but also the struggles they endure to survive today. I paint about animals that are killed as trophies, for their teeth, their horns, their coats, their tusks and even their fins. I hope my viewers are attracted to the “street art” style of my work while they learn about amazing, sometimes hardly known animals or plights, and consider their own connection with the non-human living world. Spray paint, multiple layers of hand drawn and hand cut stencils, brush strokes, paint drips, pen and pencil marks all come together to reflect life in human- altered landscapes. I add words, shapes, and atmospheric elements to create dimension in the animals’ stories and to evoke the emotions I feel when I create my works. I hope my audience will see and feel that animals are struggling, that they need our compassion, that we cannot continue on our path of waste and apathy. These unique creatures are the secret to a balanced system and to our own well-being and are worth preserving and taking actions to save. My animals are not defeated, however. They are defiant, strong and powerful – standing tall. They can overcome the dark stories that surround them, if just given some help, some understanding, some priority. My work is inspired by love and pain. I show the duality of possibility – dread and hope, loss and strength, how we perceive and what actually is, how things are and how they could be. As an advocacy artist, I embrace two pillars of thought: create skillful, aesthetic and unique images about animals that I adore, and speak for them in an honorable noble voice that resonates with my audience and stirs emotion within. The fabric of these two threads as well as the many layers of story, history, voice, materials, content, context, style, color and vocabulary are the resulting woven tapestry of the art before you. My goals are mighty, to educate and inspire my audience and to create a financial stream of donations to organizations that need our support. I have donated my work, prize monies and a percentage of every work sold to Lions Tigers and Bears of Alpine California, Rhino911, World Wildlife Fund, Defenders of Wildlife, The Humane Society, Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Global Conservation Force, Kenya Wildlife Service and many other non-profit animal welfare foundations. I exhibit all over Southern California from places like the San Diego Art Institute in Balboa Park, The Mission Trails Regional Park Visitor’s Center, The Mission Restaurant (various locations) to fabulous galleries like Sparks Gallery Downtown San Diego and Studio C Gallery in El Cajon. Some works have traveled around the world and have been included in major museum expositions.

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