AMES, Iowa – Her cousins showed dogs and rabbits. She had neither, so entered the 4-H visual arts and photography divisions in fourth grade, and discovered a passion and talent for photography that has won her numerous awards and helped to steer her future goals more than 10 years later.
Anastasia Kral's first photography projects as a 4-H'er were mostly of pets and family vacations, as she learned how to mat and present her pictures. Winning many blue ribbons and honorable mention awards at the Johnson County Fair eventually led to taking one of her photos to the Iowa State Fair. Kral cites that continued feedback and experience as instrumental in helping her grow from snapshots to more artistic work over the years.
“4-H helped me push myself visually in the work I was putting out,” she said. “I would get ideas from others, feedback from the judges at county fair and put their suggestions to use.” Her junior year of high school, she arrived at her grandparent’s farm in search of a photograph for the upcoming county fair, and it was there that her trademark and love for older and abandoned or worn and weathered buildings and farmsteads took root.
“I moved from live subjects and places I was visiting to places I’ve grown up around, my home,” she said. Photography didn’t become a conscious passion, however, until she arrived as a freshman at Iowa State University in 2004. Enrolling in the design college, she planned to pursue graphic design. Then she took a one-half semester photography class and realized she could make a living from it.
“Taking that class rekindled the fact that I have been doing this since I was 10, but before that, I was never conscious that I could do it with my life.” From there she applied and was accepted to the integrated studio arts program and continued to take photography classes, exploring two interest areas.
The first is her previously mentioned love for the old landscape and building shots. As a self-defined “scavenger” she enjoys scoping the rural countrysides and backroads for her inspirations.
“I like to fall upon things I’m visually attracted to,” Kral said “and I like to come across things the way they are. I don’t set up shots.” On the flip side, she also acknowledges her love for reality television shows and from them, her interest in utilizing mass media images.
“I’m a reality TV junkee, which is another part of myself that seems so opposite,” she said. “Part of my work is flashy and self-absorbed, and I like to take images from makeup ads that are frivolous, obnoxious and bright.”
Regardless of the seeming clash in interests, Kral has been recognized and awarded numerous honors for her work. Among them, her most valued was being accepted into the Emerging Artists Program at the Des Moines Art Festival the past two years. One of only 24 selected students to have their work displayed, Kral enjoyed the experience to receive feedback outside of her college peers and professors and sell some of her artwork. Every emerging artist’s booth was sponsored by Principal Financial Group, which allowed her to keep 100 percent of her proceeds to use toward future work.
Following spring graduation, she will continue her integrated studio arts major by pursuing graduate school at ISU. Eventually, Kral hopes to teach at the college-level, work with museums like she did on-campus as a work-study student, or open a photography studio either on her own or with another photographer.
Carol Ouverson , Extension Communications and External Relations, (515) 294-9640, firstname.lastname@example.org
Hannah McCulloh, Extension Communications and External Relations, (515) 294-7581,