Hot Wheels! The Artistry of Karolina Polak

The Artist at Work - Karolina C. Polak 2019

Karolina Polak, at the Boys & Girls Club Car Show, Clifton, NJ, September 2019. Photo © Grazyna Polak

Karolina Polak, a.k.a. KAR, creates luminescent drawings of cars as well as intricate paintings on actual cars. Trucks, too.

Here’s the artist’s introduction to her work: “So, to start off, you may wonder (or not at all) how I came to do what I do. Drum roll, please … hotwheels. That’s it, those little tiny toy cars are what started me at a very young age to loving anything and everything automotive. My mother, god bless her soul, says all the time ‘I should of just bought you dolls’. Those 5-packs of hotwheels were cheaper than one Barbie for us back then. But, hey, I’m not complaining now.

“After those toys, my father taught me how to change tires, and by the age of 6, I think, I was already doing engine work with him on his Caddy. That’s pretty much where this came from … The art part, well, that little piece belongs to a woman named Cathy, she lived across the hall back when I lived in Brooklyn. My guess is she saw something in me being an artist herself and she just let me explore different mediums in her apartment. The best part is to this day she still has my art work from back then. From then on I’ve been self-taught, mostly.

“The other person that helped not only with my artistic abilities but also got me through high school (which was dreadful) was Maria, my lovely and amazing art teacher that just let my mind go wherever it wanted to. To this day, she’s like my second mom.”

Now, a collection of KAR’s four-wheeled art stars … Beasty Orange, That S2000, The Rustang, Sky McLaren, Sunset Foxbody, and her personal truck – the exquisite 1993 Nissan D21, acquired for free, cherished because it is lowered and tiny, sanded down, primered white, and then painted with celestially delicious detail.

Beasty Orange © Karolina C. Polak 2020

That S2000 © Karolina C. Polak 2020

The Rustang © Karolina C. Polak 2020

Sky McLaren © Karolina C. Polak 2020

Sunset Foxbody © Karolina C. Polak 2020

Her 1993 Nissan D21 © Karolina C. Polak 2020

KAR also expresses an ominously romantic landscape, in her large, freestanding paintings (acrylic, glow-in-the dark, and oil paints). It’s a rugged place I recognize well. You hit the proverbial wall. Disconnected. Lost. Seemingly forever.

Three Paintings © Karolina C. Polak 2020

Yet resistance is not futile. You take a tip and grab some power, ultimately knowing this: we were born to live. And hot wheels rule.

All artwork © Karolina C. Polak 2020

Ms. Polak’s newest work appears at www.instagram.com/autosbykar. Though she now resides in New Jersey, splendidly, we still get to see each other every once in a while.

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