Q&A: Northwestern graduate student Samantha Kurit paints Evanston landmarks and custom pet portraits


Photo courtesy of Max Libman

Kurit poses at the Downtown Evanston Fall Festival with her artwork and her beagle mix, Kirby.

Kara Peeler, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Samantha Kurit creates her art in one sitting, start to finish. She spreads out her supplies on the floor, painting in her sunlit apartment while her beagle mix Kirby watches. 

The first-year Speech, Language and Learning graduate student moved to Evanston from Wellington, Florida in August. But even as a graduate student, Kurit has continued her work, selling original and custom work ranging from custom dog portraits to local sceneries. She sells original work through her gallery space at Artem Pop Up Gallery and Etsy shop.

While teaching art as a high school student, Kurit said a woman came up to her, complimented her painting and asked if she did dog portraits. After she made the first custom piece, others requested more and she began her business. When visiting NU to make a decision about the graduate program, she popped into Artem, grabbed an artist application and later applied. In spare time before classes began, she fell in love painting Evanston landmarks.

The Daily talked with Kurit about her experience as an artist in Evanston and what the future holds for her.

This interview has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.

The Daily: What has art looked like for you since you’ve had gallery space at Artem? 

Kurit: I’ve met a lot of cool people, a lot of cool artists. It’s been really cool seeing other people’s work around the gallery, and people I’ve interacted with that have bought art from me. It’s really cool to think about how people have my art hanging up in their homes and their dorm rooms. 

The Daily: How do you balance art with school? 

Kurit: Art is like my escape. It’s work and play at the same time. It’s good to take that moment for myself and work through it. Also, I do have lectures playing in the background as I’m painting, and it’s like multitasking.

The Daily: How was your experience at Downtown Evanston Fall Fest, where you hosted a stall? 

Kurit: Downtown Evanston reached out to me, so it was really nice of them. They had a whole table set up for me. It was a great, honestly amazing event. I’m so excited to hopefully do another one in the winter. There was a lot of foot traffic, a lot of different vendors. I ran out of (business) cards in one day — I had to order all new ones. 

The Daily: How have your professors and classmates reacted to your art?

Kurit: One of my professors who came by to Fall Fest didn’t even know I was having a table. And she was, “I think you’re my student!” She was like, “I have to have you paint me something later,” so it was really nice. And then a bunch of people in my program have followed my Instagram account, and they’ve seen my stuff, or they bring it up to me in class, like, “Oh my God, I love this.” 

The Daily: Where do you draw your inspiration from? 

Kurit: My inspiration would be probably places, like anywhere I go. I love Tapas Barcelona, and we live kind of close, and that was one of the first places I ever ate in Evanston. So I like to paint memories of good things. It’s nice because if someone went on a first date or if that’s the place you go to study, it’s nice to have those little memories that people can take home with them. 

The Daily: What have you learned through your art business so far? 

Kurit: I have come more to terms with realizing how valuable my time is. It’s all your time. It’s your effort. It’s your talent — that is worth something. So it was pretty interesting to experience that for myself, and really put a price tag on my art because that was probably one of the hardest things for me to do. 

The Daily: What are your future goals? 

Kurit: Right now I’m going to school to be a speech therapist. I would love to include art with speech therapy. I’m hoping maybe in the next 10 to 15 years, I could open my own art studio, and then do classes and all kinds of stuff.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @karapeeler

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