I’m not one who moves. Literally. I’ve lived in the same place, more or less, since I was 3. I share my childhood home with the boy I loved at 14. All my moves are figurative, my work is how I move. Often in the past they’ve been quick bursts of series through styles, mediums, colors, moods, environmental and existential crises. My comforting constants are the ever changing nature of nature, the language of variable line, and the design of my life.
In 2017 I began studying the fine art of printmaking, gravitating towards multi-layer monotype printing. There are things I can do with monotype printing, that I could never recreate with painting or drawing. The negative and positive effects I obtain with hand-cut stencils aren’t possible with direct application. What draws me to this type of printmaking are the ephemeral surprises and chance discoveries I find when lifting paper from plate.
My latest work uses the interplay of layers as a representation of growth- both personal and environmental. The work builds upon the movement through layers, from dark depths ascending upward or cascading downward towards open brighter space and helps me portray feelings of progression, and often hope. The progress portrayed alludes to aging, mental health, and personal growth from the perspective of a life lived in one place. Ghosted images both literal and figurative are often used as a metaphor for things (family ties, natural surroundings) long past. The evolution of memories as they change and become galvanized into real and imagined beliefs are recreated by the planes of these intentionally created vistas.
Layering allows the surface of my prints to be built up creating deep depths and rising hopeful symbols. The passage of time is an elemental concept that is represented by the movement through the dark layers obscuring previously hidden marks into the open spaces to which they evolve or degrade. The act of corroding rust allows me to create beautiful line and rich area darks with an appropriately decomposing process. It’s work that needs to be made slowly, methodically, patiently. It’s suits me right now. The process is persistent and specific, yet yields amazing surprises. I can steer, but the often unexpected results are exciting and freeing. They compose me as much as I compose them.
Karen Hunter McLaughlin is a lifelong Philadelphia artist who has worked in traditional 2-D mediums as well as steel wire sculpture. She is currently exploring the fine art of monotype and the spontaneous, corrosive properties of rust. Karen’s work is often developed across a surface in cascading or ascending layers that represent movement reminiscent of the passage of time. Current work themes are a congruence of large format, multi-layer prints creating inhabitable “virtual-worlds”, and a collection of smaller prints that focus on human connection, much like the ripple effect of a stone thrown in water.
Karen has been a member of MamaCITA, a mothers’ cooperative in the arts since 2007. She is a lead member of the group since 2016 and has curated several of the group’s exhibitions. In 2012-14 Karen worked on the large multi-venue installation “One Year” in collaboration with artists, Brenda Howell, Janice Hayes-Cha, Julie Mann and Kimberly Mehler. Working under two Leeway Foundation Art and Change Grants (’11, ‘13) the artists spent two years mounting several large-scale installations using hundreds of handmade wire vessels, one for every murder in Philadelphia in 2012. Both a mentoring project and art collaboration, One Year was mounted with assistance from Philadelphia anti-violence group- Mothers in Charge.
After leaving art college in her senior year, Karen went on to seek education and artistic connection through life experience. She has exhibited extensively in the Philadelphia tri-state area, and throughout the United States. Her work is held in many private collections as well a permanent collections at Einstein Medical Center Montgomery, East Norriton, PA, and Mission First Projects at Union Eagle Apartments in Bordentown New Jersey, and MBP Apartments in Philadelphia, PA. Karen’s art has also been included in several publications including Philadelphia Stories and Extraordinary Gifts, Remarkable Women of the Delaware Valley.
Karen is the founder and director of KM Digital Design, a graphic and website design and development company since 2010.
2020Small Favors XV, The Clay Studio, Juror Leila Cartier
2020Weathered, Five Themes Project Exhibit, Manifest Gallery, 2727 Woodburn Avenue, Cincinnati, OH
2020Printmaking, Thinking in Reverse- Chester County Art Association invitational, West Chester Galleries of the Chester County Art Association, West Chester, PA
2019Print Explosion– American Color Print Society, Cheltenham Center for the Arts, Cheltenham, PA
2019Marginalized– MCCC Fine Art Center, 340 Dekalb Pike, Blue Bell, PA, AND the Drexel Pearlman Building, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA
2019Art Et Al– DaVinci Art Alliance, 704 Catharine St, Philadelphia, PA 19147
2019Visual Democracy– Art In City Hall Gallery, 116 City Hall, Philadelphia, PA
2019Process Biennial Exhibit– Cheltenham Center for the Arts, Cheltenham, PA
2018Art on Paper– Site:Brooklyn Gallery, 165 7th Street, Brooklyn, New York
2018Summer MamaCITA Exhibit- D’Arrigo Family Gallery, Hafter Student Community Center, Salus University, Elkins Park, PA
2018Annual Juried Show, Cheltenham Center for the Arts, Katherine Stanek juror, Cheltenham, PA
2017Flat Rate Box, Precious/Unprecious. Modified Arts Gallery, Phoeniz, AZ.
2017Intimate Landscapes, two person show with Julia Rix. St. John’s Creative Arts Series 2017-2018, Melrose Park, PA
2016Annual Juried Exhibition, Manayunk Roxborough Art Center, Philadelphia, PA, Honorable Mention Award
2016Simplicity, Triennial Juried Art Show, William Penn Charter School, Philadelphia, PA
2016Mission First Housing- Union Eagle Apartments – Permanent Installation, 1 Spring Street, Bordentown, NJ
2015 Re.Collection, Group Solo Show and Installation (curator), Cheltenham Center for the Arts, Cheltenham, PA
2014 Annual Juried Show, Abington Art Center, Abington, PA
2014 The Road to Here, B-Square Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
2014 Looking Up at the Cosmos, Commissioned Collaborative Mural, Mission First Housing
2014 Annual Juried Show, Richard Rosenfeld juror, Cheltenham Center for the Arts, Cheltenham, PA
2014 Mission First Housing Commission– Permanent Installations, 2811 West Sedgley Avenue, Philadelphia, PA
2013 Beginnings–Permanent Commissioned Installation at Einstein Medical Center Montgomery, East Norriton, PA
2013 MamaCITA at the Capitol Building East Wing, State House Harrisburg, PA
2013 One Year, Collaborative Art Installation at The Rotunda (Philadelphia FringeArts), Philadelphia, PA Funded by Leeway Foundation
2013 One Year, Collaborative Art Installation at the Painted Bride Art Center, Philadelphia, PA Funded by Leeway Foundation
2013 Represent, Langman Gallery Building, 218 Old York Rd, Jenkintown, PA
2012 Meta-Fiber, Fiber Philadelphia, Art in City Hall, Philadelphia, PA
2012 Annual Juried Show, Abington Art Center, Abington, PA
2011 Following the Line, Art in City Hall, Philadelphia, PA
2011 The Varied and the Overlapped, Joseph R. and Paul W. Gates Gallery, Colora, Maryland
2011 Rooted, Paintings and Drawings Inspired by Nature, two person show with Melissa Tevere, Kol Ami, Elkins Park, PA
2011 Landscape LOVE, Love Park Welcome Center, Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, PA
2010 (W)holon, Abington Art Center, Abington, PA
2010 Women in the Arts, Abington Friends School , Abington PA
2010 Organics, Art Informed and Inspired by Nature, Les Idees Gallery, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA
2009 Green Lane Commons, Green Lane and Silverwood St., Philadelphia, PA
2008 Wilmington Arts Commission, The Louis L. Redding Building, 800 N. French St, Wilmington, DE,
2008 Montgomery County Guild of Professional Artists, The Inquirer Building, Conshohocken, PA
2008 Diversity in Community, Juried Exhibition, St. John’s Creative Arts Series 2008, Melrose Park, PA
1977-1981- Tyler School of Art, Temple University
2002, 2005- Wire Tinkering at Wolf Workshops, Portand, ME with Ellen Wieske, Asst. Director, Haystack Mountain School of Craft
Ongoing- Multilayer Printmaking with Nicole Dul, Cheltenham Center for the Arts
American Color Print Society- Member
Cheltenham Center for the Arts- Member
MamaCITA a Mothers’ Cooperative in the Arts: mamacitaarts.com- Lead Member
Awards and Grants
CCA Print Guild Award in honor of Esther Rose Fisher for Dogwood Fall, January 2017
Honorable Mention– Manyunk Roxborough Art Center, annual juried show. July 2016
Leeway Foundation, Art and Change. Two grants: Jan, 2012-December 2013, March 2013-December 2013
HatchFund (Formerly USAProjects), artist advocacy grant, 2012
Philadelphia’s Mothers in Charge Peacemaker Award (with MamaCITA), 2012
The Whitman Effect– Hunter Ghosts: Feminine Tree 1865 image included as part of Whitman at 200, Art and Democracy celebration, 2019.
Portrait of the Artist as an Entrepreneur- Ladies Who Launch, Interview with Melissa Tevere for Drexel University’s Close School of Entrepreneurship, April 18, 2019
Precious/Unprecious- Here’s the Best Art We Saw in Metro Phoenix in December 2017, Phoenix News Times by December 29, 2017
One Year – Review – theartblog.com
One Year – “In art, mothers find way to deal with losing a child“, article by Melissa Dribben, Inquirer Staff Writer
One Year – Radio Interview – WHYY Newsworks interview by Yowei Shaw
Beginnings – “Images to Soothe“, article by Amy S. Rosenberg, Inquirer Staff Writer
Extraordinary Gifts, Remarkable Women of the Delaware Valley . Edited by Melissa Tevere, Carla Spataro, Tara S. Smith and Courtney Bambrick. 2014.
Antithetical Mutation – Drawing featured in Philadelphia Stories Magazine, Summer 2012