is a visual artist currently living in San Antonio, Texas.
She works primarily with innovative hand paper making techniques in a variety of forms, including artist books, sculpture and installation. Her practice is centered on an experimental approach to materials, influenced by her background in the natural sciences.
A graduate of the book arts & printmaking MFA program at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Karen's work is part of prominent national collections and is widely exhibited both nationally and internationally. Her artists books have recently received awards in exhibitions at the Northern Arizona University Art Museum and the University of Utah's J. Willard Marriott Library.
Karen has been awarded a Denbo Fellowship by Pyramid Atlantic Art Center and a College Book Art Association Project Assistance grant. She has also recently been artist-in-residence at the Picante Paper and Book Arts Studio at the Southwest School of Art.
Curiosity about materials is my primary motivation as an artist. My creative process involves intuitive experimentation with the expressive properties of materials and the associations that they carry. My artist books, sculpture, and two-dimensional work often begin with paper that I make by hand, and their meaning is inseparable from their physical materials. I am fascinated by biological forms and systems. Consciously or not, my selection and manipulation of materials often yields work that is vaguely evocative of living organisms and bodily processes. I am especially drawn to paper pulp made from overbeaten abaca and flax for its organic, corporeal effect. This material layers and interacts with light in compelling ways, capable of being beautifully luminous and uncomfortably grotesque at once. Its translucent, membrane-like quality suggests a blurred boundary between interior and exterior, private and public, protected and vulnerable. Much of my work explores this liminal state, inviting the viewer into a realm of duality and ambiguity.
Two of Karen's works have been part of the Personal Histories project:
focuses on the various roles we fill throughout our lives as both caregiver and dependant. My intent is to highlight the conflict between the instinct to nurture and the desire to be unencumbered, the push and pull between dependence and independence, and our vacillation between vulnerability and strength. In this book, the paper itself becomes a vehicle for exploring the variety of emotion encompassed in these relationships.
The handmade flax pages contain egg-shaped openings partially filled with delicate abaca membrane, echoing the longing present in the text.
is a journey through progressive stages from passivity to action. The text and imagery describe a struggle to overcome a state of apathy and indecision caused by fear and regret. Because the handmade abaca paper is translucent, as many as three or four sheets can be visible simultaneously when layered, creating an evolving visual narrative that comes in and out of focus much as mental clarity may wax and wane.
The book is composed of twelve double-sided 4" x 11" (10cm x 28cm) prints, bound with a modified long stitch in a variable edition of five.
ALL IMAGES COPYRIGHT OF THE ARTIST KAREN HARDY