Larassa Kabel, born 1970 in Mt. Clemens, MI, is a visual artist who often uses photorealistic drawings, paintings and prints to address issues of loss, fear, compassion, gender and feminism. She wants her work to start conversations about the “sad, hard parts” of human experience and help people “support one another in a difficult world.”
Through the concept of compassion, her work encompasses a broad range of emotional states, spanning the worst moments of life to recognizing one another’s humanity regardless of gender or shape or life choices.
In 2015 Kabel co-founded Chicken Tractor, a nonprofit organization that creates professional development, exhibition, networking and micro-funding opportunities for emerging and mid-career Iowa artists. In 2016, she received the first Dave Hurd Innovator of the Year Award from the Des Moines Arts Festival. The new award recognizes an individual or organization that demonstrates the pursuit of innovation in the arts.
Kabel was an Iowa Arts Council Artist Fellow in 2015 and one of the Des Moines Art Center’s Iowa Artists 2010. Her painting of the Obamas’ dog, Bo, was selected for the White House Christmas card in 2012, and her colored-pencil portrait titled “Don’t Stop Believing” was acquired by the Des Moines Art Center for its permanent collection in 2014.
Her work — which also includes mixed media, sculpture and collaborative projects with other artists — has been exhibited in museums and galleries throughout Iowa and the US, including Chicago, Cincinnati, Houston, Kansas City, Miami, New York City, and other cities in Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana and New York. Kabel has organized compelling projects in Des Moines which have included Beyond Nature (2013) and UPSpeak (2016.)