It’s not every day that an artist has a first show at a venue like Mast Cove Galleries in Kennebunkport – or that the artist exhibiting is just 18 years old.
But when the artist is Kylee Solari, whose work was featured at the Mast Cove in late July, it’s easy to understand. Solari, a 2014 graduate of Kennebunk High School, is a creative talent and rising star in the art world.
The Mast Cove experience was beyond wonderful for Solari.
“Having a show at Mast Cove was absolutely spectacular,” said Solari. “I had sold some of my work before, but most of it was of prints. This show was the first time I’ve ever sold originals, and although it’s a little weird to part with the works I’ve done, I was able to meet the people who had purchased them and that was a great experience.”
Solari has spent all but a few months of her life in Kennebunkport. Born in China, Solari was adopted by her parents, Lori and John Solari, when she was 21?2 months old.
Interested in art since she was young, Solari showed promise as an artist early on. It began with computer animation and moved into other media. Her graphic designs were published by Benchmark Education Co. in a textbook when she was in middle school.
From digital art to watercolor to painting on canvas with coffee of various strengths, Solari said she enjoys it all.
“I don’t have a preference, but so far watercolor has been the most productive and easiest to use,” she said, “though many people say that if you can master watercolor you can master anything. I haven’t mastered it but I can use it pretty well.”
Making art since she was young, Solari only began doing studio art when she entered high school and took an honors art class taught by Marnie Rollerson. She considers Rollerson a mentor.
“She really pushed us. She knew our abilities and worked with us to improve our skills,” said Solari. “She made me understand how important art is as an academic study.”
A pre-college program at Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Fla., help cement Solari’s future plans. She decided to study there and was accepted into a competitive animation program at the college. She also received Ringling’s Presidential Scholarship, a four-year award based on the merit of the admissions application and given to the strongest student applicant in each major.
Solari spent this summer interning at Dreaming Code, a web development company in Boston, working as an in-house graphic designer. She said that like other teens, she likes video games, music and movies, but is interested in, and appreciates, the creative process that goes behind those media.
“Since I’m [now] at Ringling for computer animation and hopefully later, the entertainment industry, I’m going to be involved with all of those things,” she said. “I debated for a while whether or not I wanted to have art as a career or as a hobby, but in the end there was no way I could get around not doing art full time.”
Solari said that her family has always been very supportive of her “journey into the world of art” and that her decision to study at Ringling has relieved some of their fears about undertaking a career as an artist.
“At first, they [my family] were concerned with how I would make a living,” she said, “but with the direction I’m trying to pursue in the art industry, I hopefully won’t end up being a starving artist.”
For Solari, one of the best things about being an artist is the ability to give imagination a physical form.
“I really love the fantasy of fiction and stories and I’m able to give characters a face and places to go. Even if what I make isn’t related to fantasy, I still like to compose things visually. A painting is worth a thousand words, right?” said Solari.
She said she is also inspired to create because it can bring people together.
“Conceivably anything that is given a visual form can build a fan base or community and I’m always amazed at what fans can add to an existing piece of work,” she said.
No matter what she does in life or where her art takes her, Solari said she has one goal as a person.
“I hope that I can grow up to be someone like my mother,” she said. “She is one of my role models and I want to have the courage and independence that she has as an adult.”