At 32, Stella Im Hultberg is a shining star in the pop art world. A masterful artist using both oil on canvas and watercolor on tea-stained paper, she creates beautiful portraits of women, rich in gracefulness, and full of femininity. What I find most intriguing about her pieces are the blank expressions on the faces of her subjects. It's as if they have something to say, something to explain. Through their sad, sullen eyes, you see a desperate attempt to communicate something to the viewer.
Hultberg was born in South Korea, and raised in Seoul, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and California. Taking inspiration from all these different cultures, she finally settled in New York City, got married, and built an impressive portfolio. She has now successfully shown and sold her work in prestigious galleries thoughout Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Portland, Atlanta, and Seattle.
Before entering the art world, Hultberg studied Industrial Design at CSU, which naturally led her to work as a toy designer early on in her career. Work in the design industry allowed her to discover her natural talents as an artist, and a burgeoning career as a self-taught painter soon followed.
Unlike many artists, Hultberg's creative process is unique. As she explains, “When I begin a painting, I don't start with a clear idea or message. The early stages are abstract and vague and the work then develops organically as I paint. There's no specific concept but a blurry idea I try to clarify as each layer of paint is built up.
“An underlying unifying theme of identities and duality seems to permeate much of my work. Identity as a human being, the frail and the strong; identity as an individual; identity in relation to others or the environment; and even dual, overlapped, confused identities.
The process of creating a painting is what intrigues me most, like finding pieces of a puzzle. The figures (women) in my paintings are a vessel through which I can connect with the world. The unseen moments, the unspoken words, the indescribable emotions that permeate much of our lives… those are the elements I try to capture and represent through the figures in my work.”