Andreas and Naomi Kunert erect stone circles that are spellbinding and timeless, like ancient megaliths. They create swirling stone murals reminiscent of galaxies, which seem to draw us into the movements of the cosmos. They carve smooth and mystical scenes into marble and basalt.
As I sat down with them, I couldn’t wait to hear about their artistic journey — how they came to create such lofty works from this heavy medium. What I got was refreshingly unexpected — a love story.
The Kunerts are partners in art and in life. Yet the “love” in this story reaches beyond romance, into a profound realm of mercy, grace, and healing.
An older, refined gentleman approached them with tears in his eyes after walking through their gallery studio during a recent tour. “I feel like I’ve just walked into a church — it just feels so sacred in here,” he said.
Naomi says that the spirit or “vibrations” of the artist permeate the artwork and emanate from it. “It’s really… where we come from in our own spirit and heart connection and our intention for the Earth and humanity that people feel in our work,” she says.
Their intention is to bring healing, inspiration and wellness to people through their art.
The Kunerts have themselves found healing through their art. Naomi is a cancer survivor who poured her heart into her art when all else seemed lost. Andreas lived through severe accidents that affected his nervous system, causing pain and memory loss. But he used his other, heightened faculties in his art; he has a preternatural attunement to his medium and its forms.
Their whole story, from the way they met and bonded, to the inspirations for their designs, has an otherworldly quality. Deeply moved and inspired by ancient traditions, they named their business Ancient Art of Stone.
The way they look at each other — with a genuine and almost tangible mutual understanding — tells me more than their words. Their ancient art of stone is a physical manifestation of a sacred bond — first connecting with nature and spirit, then with each other, and lastly with us, humanity, the lucky observers.
A timeless essence made personal
They draw on ancient motifs and wisdom in their designs, giving them a universal characteristic. But they also make each piece an individual “soul portrait,” Andreas says.
“We’ve had people that have our work in their house ten years and would say, ‘I get up in the morning and then come upon this fireplace, this wall, and it’s still different every day. How could I have not seen that after all this time?’” he says. “It’s always evolving to them — it continues to affect them. It’s deeply personal for them.”
“It’s very important that we never create anything to be pretty,” Andreas says. “It always has an important meaning behind it. Every piece we do really is a soul portrait; whether it’s for an individual or a community, we’re very mindful of where it’s going.”
The couple believes their mediums — stone, various crystals, and other minerals — have special properties, of which they are continually reverent in their work.
Naomi describes, for example, the healing and transformational properties of stone according to Native tradition: “Through the First Nation, they say stone was the first spirit to inhabit the Earth and has the most ancient voice.”
“If you’re blessed by stone, you can live a blessed life, but it’s a difficult path because it’s not the easiest material to work with,” Naomi says. For her, it’s not just about the effect of art, but also the effect of the material’s ancient metaphysical qualities. The spirit can move through the material and come back to the viewer with a greater sense of good.
Various cultures have traditionally attributed healing and mood-affecting properties to certain crystals and precious stones. The Kunerts draw on these traditions in their designs. “Naomi has an incredible intuition into the person when she meets them and knows what they need, which crystal they need, what the shape should be, the height and why, and can articulate it,” says Andreas.
The Kunerts say they have witnessed the visible impacts of their work on others. At trade shows, for example, it is common for people to have a strong reaction to seeing their art. “Being right in front of it, [people] will just start to weep,” Naomi says. “Sometimes grown men say, ‘I don’t even know why I’m crying. I don’t usually cry.’”
They also use ancient principles of balance and harmony in their designs, which they say can have a great impact on a person’s inner well-being.
Their art is fashioned like the cosmos itself, guided by “sacred geometry.” The Fibonacci sequence, for example, is part of their designs. This sequence describes the mathematical proportions found throughout nature — from spiral galaxies to hurricanes to the arrangement of seeds in a sunflower.
Like these primordial designs, the convergence of Andreas and Naomi’s paths couldn’t have been accidental.
Rock and a hard place
They both grew up immersed in nature. Naomi was raised on the prairies of Saskatchewan, Canada. Andreas spent much of his youth in the forests of Vermont, often going alone on backcountry adventures.
Naomi’s early interactions with her future artistic medium would ground her in its simple beauty. Her family lived in an old priest’s rectory beside a church, on a settlement of Catholic German parishioners. “[The parishioners] had a grotto built that was all made of stone, so I had a really strong connection to stone and love of stone,” she says.
Near the settlement was an old Native American camp scattered with ancient stone arrowheads. Again, she felt the enduring and important place stone had in ancient cultures.
While these experiences, and her later understanding of the Native reverence for stones, have influenced her work, she has also seen the principles of Eastern philosophies at play in her life.
The Eastern idea of yin and yang is about harmonized duality, about two complementary yet opposite types of energy. The yin-yang balance characterizes her partnership with Andreas, she says. But it is also evident in how the light and dark moments of her young adult life guided her to her purposeful path.
Shortly after graduating with honours, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in sculpture and painting, Naomi fell sick with thyroid cancer.
“It affected the trajectory of my life at that point,” she says. “I always had an active studio where I was painting and doing sculpture, but I had to go on this track to help heal myself. Through that process, I became aware of some of the natural gifts I had in helping others to also heal themselves and return to a state of peace and harmony.”
Naomi had dabbled in stone and crystal carving during her undergraduate degree, but it was at this point in her life that her exploration with these materials would begin to take greater form.
“They have an energy, a vibration,” she says. “Listening to that ancient quality, there’s actually an ancient art in connecting to the stone and to connect with these other realms and how they can speak to us.”
To heal herself, Naomi began working with First Nation people in Saskatchewan and Alberta, learning ancient ceremonies and how the spirit penetrates all of creation. “It was so magical,” she says. “I started having real experiences of connection with the spirit through the stone and dreams.”
A mystical meeting
Naomi then began to dream about a man — she didn’t know his name and hadn’t ever met him.
“I was told [in the dreams] about his life and where he comes from, who he is as a soul, and his mastery and lineage — that he comes from… a Germanic Russian area,” Naomi says. “I was told about different things that had happened in his life and was shown where he was working, on the Sunshine Coast [in British Columbia].”
Then came another link — a friend of hers from the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia visited her dreams. Though she hadn’t seen this friend in four years, she rang him up.
“John, I had this dream about you,” Naomi told him. “I think I’m supposed to come see you,” she said, and she flew out the next weekend. John, unbeknownst to her, happened to be hosting a birthday party for a dear friend of his, the artist from her dreams — Andreas Kunert.
“I recognized him immediately,” Naomi says. “I would hear his voice and then be told things about him through intuition — he can speak eight languages, and all these things. This doesn’t normally happen for me, but I knew something very strange was going on.”
Then that look again, this time Naomi to Andreas, and back — two humble, grateful souls journeying through space, brought together for a special purpose as sacred as their own bond together.
“I always say Naomi saved my life,” says Andreas, also a trained artist and a self-described “rogue,” who would wander off to do his own thing because art classes bored him.
When he met Naomi about ten years ago, his ability to remember had been severely damaged by multiple accidents in his youth. For example, when he was 16, Kunert cracked his head on the tail of a plane as he was skydiving, he says.
“And then his chute didn’t open,” Naomi chimes in. Andreas chuckles, happy to have her elaborate with the “minor” details.
“It’s very hard to have no memory and be sensitive and be so different, and not have the basic tools everybody else has,” Andreas says. “Naomi comes, reconnects the pathways and sticks with me and becomes my partner.”
He recalls what had him jumping out of a plane in the first place: “My dad was an entrepreneur but also a mountain guy,” says Kunert. “If you didn’t win a gold medal at the Olympics, you’re a waste of time. I couldn’t win a gold medal at the Olympics, as much as I tried, so I tried everything else, like jumping off cliffs.”
Naomi explains what happened as a result of Andreas’ accidents — the negative as well as the positive impacts, again recalling yin and yang.
Andreas’ severe accidents caused his nervous system to be locked in a fight-or-flight survival mode. In this state, she says, his frontal lobes were not communicating well with his limbic system — a part of the brain related to memories.
“He has a genius savant kind of IQ,” Naomi says. “In that creative mind, a lot of autistic children also have this problem. Their nervous system is overwhelmed, so they might have one particular area that they’re really good at, whether it’s math or creativity, but they are easily overwhelmed in scenarios.”
Despite the accidents, the outdoors was Andreas’ true home.
“I grew up in Vermont on 300 acres next to the national forest — I didn’t know anybody. I knew animals better than I knew humans, essentially,” Kunert says with a laugh. “I could go out with you and live in the woods for a month and we’d be fine. We’d eat and live and we could be happy. That’s probably the only thing I understood, because we never lived near societies.”
As an artist who survived great health challenges herself, Naomi was able to understand, and heal, Andreas on many levels. His ability to remember gradually returned, as she helped restore safety to his nervous system and reconnect neuro-pathways.
When they first met, it wasn’t just her precognitive dreams about him that created an instant bond. “I felt this connection and this synergy just to be with him,” she says. “It just felt like the most comfortable, normal thing, like I’ve known him my whole life. He probably thought it was strange.” They laugh together, suggesting it wasn’t at all.
“We merge our worlds — we have a very good complementary energy and complement each other’s gifts and abilities. It doesn’t feel competitive; it’s very nurturing to each other,” Naomi says.
The Kunerts see the perils of our high-tech society, so the timing for their art seems as well-placed as the spiraling, fluid stone designs of each piece.
Naomi holds up her cell phone, saying, “This phone and this way to connect, I feel that it’s a big problem.”
She’s not seeking to demonize technology, but rather expresses genuine concern about it out of compassion for others. Through conversations with her daughter and her own observations, Naomi thinks people feel more anxious and trapped these days as a result of addiction to technology.
“Nature is something that helps to regulate our nervous system, helps bring it in balance. But the technology is wiring us in a way that makes kids depressed,” she says.
It’s troubling when “connection” today only means Wi-Fi signals and computer systems, she says.
Trade shows clearly illustrate the sentiment as plastic products and technology inundate the space. “Then there’s us right in the middle with this stone, with nothing flashy about it and these people are just stopped in their tracks,” Andreas says. “They don’t know what to do with it…. They’ll cry. They’ll just stare. It’s great.”
“They melt down,” adds Naomi. “Lots of people are just drawn to it like a magnet.”
As I listened and laughed with these two mystic artists and began to understand their motivations, I still wondered about their artistic process.
“It’s important to talk about how you see,” Naomi says, looking encouragingly at Andreas.
Andreas smiles back and says, “I was born with the ability to see sacred geometry. The Fibonacci sequence or sacred geometry, I see that. When I photograph people’s faces, I can see it in your face. I can see it in a landscape, and I can especially see it if we’re going to [arrange stones].”
He explains sacred geometry is in all things, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, flowers and even ferns as they unfold. “It’s everywhere. It’s in our DNA. It’s literally everywhere,” Andreas says. He didn’t know what it was called until meeting Naomi, but he always knew about it intuitively. “I just did it naturally. As I’m setting stone, I’ll close my eyes and feel it in my fingers, the shape, and I’ll know what’s next.”
“It allows for a certain measurement which is neuro-aesthetically pleasing to us, to our eye, and it’s familiar, although more on an unconscious level,” Naomi says.
The Golden Ratio, which is related to the Fibonacci sequence and which is a part of Andreas’ designs, has been used by great artistic masters of the past. “The great masters who built the cathedrals and who painted, like Michelangelo and Raphael and the great architects, knew this Golden Ratio — the means to create these pieces that affected people at a deep, core foundational level,” Naomi says.
The Kunerts are paving the way with a new art form. The obstacles are as large as their sacred stone structures — which can be quite daunting, considering they’re currently working on a ten-acre, $50 million project, moving gigantic stones.
“I think the hardest thing sometimes is getting out of bed, because you’re in pain,” says Andreas. He has learned to pace himself while working on the sculptures, because the physical effort “nearly killed me,” he says. “All the workers would come and go. I never stopped.”
Andreas describes their relationship with their artwork, comparing it to being a parent — creating, struggling, and loving each creation unconditionally. “I’m not trying to love one piece more than another. They’re just all in us — we can feel them,” he says.
Again the touching gaze between them, reminding Naomi of a moment when her daughter was only six weeks old. One night, as Naomi watched the baby sleep, she had a vision of multiple galaxies where the baby lay.
“It was the most profound thing because it showed me we are the stars — we are all of it, it happens right here. When we have the ability to affect our cells, our vibration, we affect creation,” she says.
This is their goal — to inspire and heal on a deep level, Naomi says. “[It’s] not just a beautiful art piece, but something that touches the spirit.”
You may also like to read
• From Refugee to Craftsman: Theresa Nguyen Shows Her Silver Mastery