Kyrianna (Kiri) Bolles is a surrealist watercolor artist currently working on the West Coast of the United States. She runs the arts collective ANIMUS with her best friend and business partner Haley Baldwin.
KYRIANNA was raised on a small sheep farm in the foothills of the Siskiyou mountains in southern Oregon. At a very young age she began creating art, which led to her being placed in a Waldorf school where she established her foundational training in watercolor at 8 years old. During her waldorf education she studied with Elaine Frenett, a renowned, local watercolorist. She excelled at art throughout elementary and middle school and found that it was her passion.
About a month after her 12th birthday, KYRIANNA’s life changed – she very suddenly developed a constant, chronic pain condition that at times is debilitating and leaves her unable to walk or stand. Thus began years of medical appointments, dozens of doctors, hours of physical therapy, MRIs, bone scans, x-rays, etc and no solutions. Art became something different for her then – an outlet and an escape from this confusing, terrible thing that was happening.
In high school KYRIANNA stumbled upon self-portraiture by chance. Not fully realizing what she was doing at first, she began to make watercolor self-portraits about her chronic pain. Farm life instilled a great fascination with the natural world in her and she began to see parallels between certain natural elements and her chronic pain, (the way fungus grows on rotting wood, or a plant rooting into soil). These visual metaphors in her self-portraits allowed her to have the first glimpse of agency over her condition. "Suddenly I could see the pain and even draw myself pulling it out of my body if I wanted to."
She received awards for her art in high school and had exhibitions at several local and regional galleries.
College brought new challenges. The American school system is not designed for students with disabilities. KYRIANNA tried unsuccessfully to get disability accommodations from her school - the University of Puget Sound, and maybe even for a support group to be set up for students like herself. After years of no help from the university, as a senior she was finally able to start a support group herself - at long last meeting other students struggling with chronic conditions. During undergrad KYRIANNA was awarded merit scholarships for her work. Her art appeared in over a dozen university publications, and won several awards including the Senior Art Award in her graduating class for her thesis project creating portraits of students with chronic pain and illness.
KYRIANNA has continued her work making portraits of people with chronic conditions. Having been raised by two psychotherapist parents - Sharon Bolles and Nando Raynolds - KYRIANNA has a strong interest in psychology and the intersection between it and chronic pain. Her parents and older brother Jasper Raynolds have always been very supportive of her work and helped to encourage her art making and dedication to helping people.
While KYRIANNA still struggles with chronic pain, she appreciates the purpose it has created in her life. "I battled for so long with the grief of living every day with chronic pain. I feel grateful to have found this path with my art and for all the incredible, strong people I have met along the way. I can't wait to continue to grow my practice."