Ilmika Kulla Will Display Her Paintings December 6th

Ilmika Kulla describes her work as impressionist.

Story By John Murray

   Ilmika Kulla is obsessed with painting glamour, particularly Hollywood stars from the 1950s and 1960s: Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and Marlon Brando among them. “Our icons today don’t have the same elegance and style,” Kulla said. “I’m fascinated by old Hollywood.”

   But don’t try and pigeonhole this young artist, because Kulla will surprise you with paintings of singer Freddie Mercury, Muhammad Ali, Gandhi, Michael Jackson, Kim Kardashian, JFK, Buddha and Barack Obama.

   “I go through phases,” Kulla said. “I also paint landscapes that are pretty and relaxing, but I prefer taking risks and painting icons in unexpected ways.”

  Sometimes Kulla sees the finished painting before she begins, and at other times she veers in a different direction as the artwork unfolds.

   “The hardest part is knowing when the piece is done,” Kulla said. “For me that point comes when I feel I can’t put anything else on the canvas.”

   One painting that no one has seen yet is a piece that Kulla has created about Freddie Mercury. “He died of AIDS in 1991, the same year that Albania opened up and we were able to listen to his music,” Kulla said. “I went to see the recent movie about him, Bohemian Rhapsody, and I cried the entire movie. I get very emotional about Freddie Mercury and the difficulties he faced as a child for being different.”


Kulla’s take on Audrey Hepburn

   Kulla is staging her second art show of 2018 when she exhibits 25 original pieces at Vyne Restaurant on December 6th in Middlebury. The show is from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm.

   “I’m excited and nervous,” Kulla said, “my ego plays games with me and I wonder if anyone will get what I’m painting.”




Kulla’s art studio overflows with a wide variety of work, this one of Nelson Mandella.

Kulla has painted many pieces of Marilyn Monroe and they sell quickly.

Kulla pieces on Heath Ledger.

Works of Buddha are in every room of Kulla’s home.

Kulla occasionally paints birds and horses and landscapes.

During a show at La Tavola in May, Kulla showed paintings of JFK and Barack Obama.

   Kulla immigrated from Albania in 1998 when she was 10 years old. “I knew a few words in English,” she said. “ I knew cat, dog, umbrella, pencil and pen.”

   But she knew Albanian and Italian, and quickly picked up Spanish by watching soap operas on TV. “English is my 4th language,” Kulla said

   Kulla spent part of her childhood in Berat, Albania, exploring art and making dresses for her dolls.

   “I’m an only child and I have always loved art,” Kulla said. “Albania was a poor country and I had no canvas or paints, but I had a notebook, pencils and pens, and I drew dresses.”  


Her piece on boxer Muhammad Ali is one of her favorites, and will be at Vyne on December 6th.

Pieces on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln.

Her landscapes and seascapes sell quickly, but Kulla prefers more risky subjects.

   In 1998 when Kulla moved to Connecticut with her parents she continued to pursue her passion in both painting and dressmaking. She has worked for a bridal designer making wedding dresses, and makes all her own dresses for events and special occasions. She is again making her own dress for the December 6th show.

   Kulla describes herself as spiritual and has painted Buddha many times. “Buddha represents peace and stillness and being in the moment,” Kulla said, “which is how I paint.”

   This will be Kulla’s fourth art show in the past five years. The first one was at Bin 300 in Wolcott and she said it was very successful. She had been encouraged by friends to exhibit her work in a public space, and she sold some of her pieces.

   “The idea is to sell some of the paintings,” Kulla said, “but it is more important to me to show my work and have people appreciate it.”

    The December 6th event at Vyne Restaurant is free and open to the public. When asked what to expect, Kulla smiled and said, “There will be something for everyone to like. I never paint the same thing twice.”