My work evokes an effort to combine representation with abstraction such as is seen in the work of Larry Rivers; a twentieth century artist of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s and the Midwestern artist, Thomas Hart Benton. There is an emphasis on the strong work ethic that is so indicative of many areas in Kansas or the Midwest. Now my vision is expressing manual labor or a strong Midwestern work ethic in general. This work ethic is seen in various areas such as industry, construction, landscape, agriculture, and family life.
This new direction still resembles the combination of related scenes in Benton’s work. There is also a hint of influence from Diego Rivera’s work in his factory scenes that involved the physical struggles in handling the machinery and pressure to produce the product in Detroit Michigan for Henry Ford Jr. and his auto factory in the 1930’s.
I have also become more interested in the enlarged scale of the human figure in the composition as seen in Lucian Freud’s and Philip Pearlstein’s work. Pearlstein would do over life-sized portrait paintings and his aim was to show an exact likeness of a figure in a situation and not wanting to interrupt their psychological stance. The stress and or tension expressed in the body of a worker denotes challenges in getting a task done. These two artists would let parts of the human body touch the edges of the composition set against a minimal background.
Discarded metal parts, old pieces of machinery, and tools indicate instruments that were used long ago to complete work. Rough versus smooth areas are created using impasto textures and layering of acrylic paint. Areas of the composition are defined using transparency and opaque layers.
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Karen is a retired Jr.-Sr. High Art Instructor from Sacred Heart Jr.-Sr. High School Salina, Kansas after 37 years. Her educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Marymount College in Salina, Kansas. She holds a Master of Arts Degree in Painting from Fort Hays State University.
She has had solo shows at William T. Kemper Gallery, K-State Student Union, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, and Carnegie Art Center, Goodland, Kansas. Her work has also been in Art shows at the Hays Arts Council, Hays, Kansas, and Lincoln Art Center, Lincoln, Kansas. Most recently one of her paintings was chosen for the 49th Annual Smoky Hill Art Exhibition for 2018 at the Hays Arts Council. One of her paintings is part of the Hadley Foundation Art Collection located at the Hadley Regional Medical Art Center in Hays, Kansas. This is a triptych painting entitled “Systematic Operations.”