Kiran Joan is effervescent. Before I met her in her humid Clayworks studio this past April, I had been instructed by three mutual friends, “You’ll like Kiran.” And it would be hard not to. The young artist is a people person, naturally inquisitive and excitable, she laughs easily and really wants to make you a chai tea when you show up for a studio visit.
Born in Muscot, Oman, Joan moved as a child with her family to another port city on the other side of the Arabian Sea, Mangaluru, India. She attended undergraduate school in Bangalore to study sculpture and then enrolled at the Maryland Institute College of Art’s Illustration MFA Program, which brought her to Baltimore in 2019. Currently, she works across ceramics and graphic design, a combination not many artists undertake but feels right for her. Joan says, “I feel like I’ve always been drawn to working with 3D material and always kept wanting to go back to it. I worked for a few years as a graphic designer and then I [thought] I’ve been drawing all my life—I want to do illustration.”
After graduating with a BFA in Sculpture from Karnataka Chitrakala Parishat, College of Fine Arts, Bangalore, India in 2017, Joan received her MFA in 2021. Spending most of her graduate school career during the pandemic bonded her to her cohort, many of whom stayed in Baltimore and remain close today. Joan says of her colleagues, “The camaraderie within our group was extraordinary, and even after graduating, we maintain a strong connection through regular group critiques and sharing feedback on each other’s work. These individuals have truly become my people, my chosen family here in Baltimore.”