Sculptures by Karen Steen
February 14 – March 25
Thursday, February 24
5:00 – 7:00 pm
Shipley's Speer Gallery
"At it’s core, my work is about organic forms and their relationships. The notion that civilization is damaging the balance of nature’s elaborate systems fuels my interest in the aesthetic qualities of biology and the small-scale world, where forms are either invisible to the naked eye, or can be seen only through up-close examination. My drawings, collages, and relief sculptures explore this theme."
Karen Steen started her professional art career as an editorial illustrator. She made scores of tiny paintings, published in magazines and books, that provided visual information about scientific subjects related to health, well-being, and medicine. In response to the constraints of commercial illustration, Karen entered into a phase of exploration during which she studied various printmaking techniques and unconventional uses of materials.
The quest to refine her personal expression led her to pursue an MFA degree, which she completed in 2007 at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. She also has Bachelors degrees in Illustration, earned in 1988 at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California and in Business, earned in 1978 at Colorado College in Colorado Springs. Karen relishes the challenge of combining the technical and conceptual skills she developed as an illustrator with the intuitive approach of a fine artist.
Artistic influences include Lee Bountecou, for her singular vision and masterful use of materials, Elizabeth Murray for blurring the line between picture and object, and for making work that is both serious and playful, and Aurora Robson, for her inventive hanging sculptures, inspired by organic forms and made from cast-off plastic bottles.
Steen has won numerous awards and has exhibited in Southern California, Philadelphia, New York City, and various locations in the mid-Atlantic region. Recently, she was an award winner in the prestigious exhibition, Art of the State: Pennsylvania 2010, at the State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg, and won the Betsy Meyer Memorial Award for Experimental Art in 2009.
Karen’s artistic life includes a commitment to art education. She teaches numerous classes for kids of all ages through the Banana Factory’s Art and Education Programs. She is commencing work as the Artist-in-Residence at St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem, where she will help cancer patients with creative projects to aid in their well-being and healing.
Karen is a southern California native. She moved with her husband and three daughters to the east coast five years ago. She now lives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and loves working in her studio at the Banana Factory.