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Group hug: New Works by Geoffrey Johnson and Kim Schuesler 

The opening reception for Shain Gallery's newest exhibition, New Works by Geoffrey Johnson and Kim Schuessler, will take place on Friday, May 15, from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. Schuessler, who has lived in Atlanta for the past 16 years, will display several pieces of her art. The ideas for her works come from life experiences and relationships. The exhibition continues through June 27. For details, call 704-334-7744 or go to www.shaingallery.com.

Creative Loafing: Can you tell me about your educational background?

Kim Schuessler: I attended Parsons School of Design in New York, graduated from the University of Georgia with a BFA, and completed a teaching certificate at Kennesaw College. Immediately after becoming certified, I taught art at an Atlanta elementary school for four years before pursing my true passion, painting, full-time.

I read that you studied with Dan Connally in Cortona, Italy, and at the University of Bourgogne in Dijon, France. Who is Dan Connally? And what was it like studying in Europe?

Connally was a student of the well-known artist, Wayne Thiebaud. Studying in Europe was incredible. Being able to view firsthand the architecture, paintings and sculptures that mark history enabled me to have a great appreciation for all types and styles of art.

You've had a show in collaboration with the retail store, Neiman Marcus. Can you tell me about that?

The show at the Atlanta Neiman Marcus was several years ago, and I shared the show with both of my sisters, who are artists as well. To my delight, the show was a great success.

How many pieces of your work are going to be featured in the exhibition at Shain Gallery?

I will have 14 paintings at the Shain show. The subjects range from couples standing on daisies, moms giving their sons piggyback rides, to women making wishes. Each is an example of the hope and joy of humanity.

What inspired the painting "Back to Back Straight Talk"?

The painting "Back to Back Straight Talk" represents the support system a relationship can provide.

What inspired the painting "Don't Forget to Let Your Light Shine"?

That painting is inspired by a childhood song that has influenced me even as an adult. I love believing that even in dark places, God gives us the light we need to see clearly.

Your works are very colorful and textured. Tell me about your painting process.

I love color. I love texture. I love design and fashion. I try to incorporate all of these principles into each painting, layering colors and adding paper for texture. Many of my paintings are collaged with interesting paper that I've acquired from around the globe ... from cities like Hong Kong and Rome.

Is there any specific message or theme that you hope to get across through your works?

I want people to look at my paintings and remember that life is about enjoying and appreciating all that has been given to them. We are all gifted with relationships that bring joy and laughter, and I hope my paintings encourage people to hug the ones they love.

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