Kim Novak opens exhibit of her works at Butler


Kim Novak recalled having wept as she felt the late South Africa President Nelson Mandela’s spirit flow through her and tried to capture and express its essence on a medium.

“He inspired me as a human being. I painted him as a butterfly, as if he was taking off,” the renowned film star, actress and artist said, referring to the catalyst that gave her the passion and desire to use pastels to create “Transformation – Nelson Mandela.”

Novak, who had starring roles in numerous films from the 1950s and 1960s, found herself playing a vastly different role, as she was the guest of honor for a two-hour Meet the Artist reception Sunday afternoon at the Butler Institute of American Art Trumbull Branch, 9350 E. Market St.

“I felt so much for what he went through,” the 86-year-old Novak said while describing the Mandela piece she painted after his death Dec. 5, 2013, at age 95. It shows the anti-apartheid leader in a meditative pose with a shock of colored wings jutting in several directions from his head that symbolize his dream for bringing together people of all colors, races and nations.

The work also is one of about 75 paintings, photographs, stained-glass and sculpture pieces that make up the retrospective exhibit, “Kim Novak: An Iconic Vision,” which will be at the Butler’s Trumbull location through Oct. 6.

Novak, who lives in Sams Valley, Ore., also painted “Melting Glaciers,” a haunting flurry of wispy, wavy and seemingly out-of-focus colors through which can be seen a dog and a polar bear with stunned and dazed looks under the face of a tear-filled woman wearing a Rosary on her finger. The painting is a visual expression of the devastating effects of climate change, Novak explained.

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