One flying out of Kuksi's nest
By KALEY CONNER
This fall is shaping up to be a busy one for Hays artist Kris Kuksi.
He's gearing up for a large art show in New York City in November -- the same month he and his wife, Gwyn, are expecting their second child. The following month, Kuksi will relocate his studio to Lawrence.
He has been in Hays for 21 years, and the move will be bittersweet, Kuksi said.
"I always had a great time here -- going to the university, getting to know a lot of local people and professionals," he said. "I always felt like there was a very good caliber of work ethic, just very down-to-earth people here."
Kuksi earned bachelor's and master's degrees in fine arts from Fort Hays State University. Though he studied painting in college, he now focuses primarily on dramatic and dark 3-D sculptures. A significant amount of detail goes into each piece, and celebrities such as Robin Williams and Guillermo del Toro have purchased his creations.
One of Kuksi's pieces recently gained national attention when it was featured as a prominent backdrop in the film "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones."
The movie, which is in theaters, is the first cinematic project Kuksi has taken on.
"The director emailed me and said, 'I really like your work, and I wondered if you'd be interested in a project I'm working on,' " Kuksi said.
The featured sculpture is a nearly 10-foot-tall figurine that looks like a Roman centurion with wings.
"I was pretty surprised how much it appears in the movie," Kuksi said.
The national clothing retailer Hot Topic even is selling a woman's tank top emblazoned with a large photograph of the statue.
Kuksi's studio is lined with approximately 10 new projects he is working on for his upcoming show.
The family is moving to Lawrence because his wife was offered her "dream job" teaching at a Waldorf school. Kuksi already has secured future studio space in downtown Lawrence, though it won't be as large as his current location.
His two employees will be looking for other opportunities.
He will remain in Hays through the end of the year.
"I'll probably be back fairly often," Kuksi said.