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Kyla Zoe Rafert

Artist Statement

Echoing fairytales my paintings of adolescent girls and young women play on feminine and romantic notions such as the peril of curiosity, the potency of beauty, and the inevitable fall of innocence.  I approach my subjects as a puppeteer.  Carefully positioned, their narrative is set in a meticulously designed world of vanity, beauty, and abundant pattern that evokes a carefully designed stage more than it does the happenstance of real life.  The resulting paintings tempt us with their indulgent beauty while toying with our compulsion to both deconstruct and idolize feminine tropes and archetypes.

Many people mistake these works for digital art or collage, but they are paintings, and all on one surface. They generally take me 3-4 months to complete, and every element, including the patterned dresses, miniature paintings often feature within, and the figures, is hand-painted in gouache and ink with the exception of the pattern on walls and floor, which I screen-print directly on to the painting as a final step.


Kyla Zoe Rafert is a painter and printmaker living in central Ohio.  Her work is psychologically driven and historically inspired.  She creates highly detailed ahistorical tableaus that feature young women and girls in surrealistic, psychologically potent scenes. Her works are ultimately a treatise on the multiple, sometimes conflicting expectations society has and has had for women and girls, and the often confusing transition from girlhood, to adulthood. Her love-hate relationship with feminine ideals is a foundational theme of her work.

Rafert is the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, with residencies at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, The Vermont Studio Center and Women’s Studio Workshop, among others. She is a member of the International Guild of Realism and her work has received national recognition by numerous publications including Create Magazine, New American Paintings, and American Art Collector. She earned her B.F.A. in Printmaking from the Rhode Island School of Design and her M.F.A. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

She now lives on a 5 acre homestead in Amanda, Ohio with her partner and their two daughters. There, in addition to creating her paintings and raising a young family, she tends to a large kitchen garden, and a menagerie of livestock. All of these personal passions are a continual source of inspiration for her artwork.