Karen Hunter McLaughlin, Over Understory Title,

Karen Hunter McLaughlin

September 7-26, 2021

Cheltenham Center for the Arts
439 Ashbourne Road, Cheltenham, PA 19012

Opening Reception Friday, September 10, 2021 6-9pm

a solo collection of work created during the 2021 Cheltenham Center for the Arts print residency

Karen Hunter McLaughlin, Dark Moon, Monotype

Dark Moon, 18″ x 24″, rust & monotype

Beginning in January 2021 I was priviledged to be granted a print residency at Cheltenham Center for the Arts just outside Philadelphia, PA.

The journey began in the deep quarantine of the pandemic second wave. The art center was closed to the public, and there were no other residents during the round. Solitude reigned. Working in isolation I used the freedom to develop new monotype skills. Rust, layers, hand-cut stencils, and ink are the mediums of this exploration.

Early in the pandemic lockdown I read Underland by Robert MacFarlane, an adventurer and nature writer. As historian Andrea Wulf describes “Underland shows us how to see in the dark.” This was exactly what I needed at the critical time just before my CCA residency. I reveled in the dive below ground and found ambient music at the same time. Underland introduced me to the groundbreaking work of Susanne Simard. Through her investigations of the understorey of temperate forests, micorrhizal networks, and the mutualism of trees, the writings of MacFarlane, and the layered music of Philp Glass and Brian Eno, I found comfort and direction…

Read about my connected outdoor installation at High School Park in Elkins Park, PA, completed during this time- Kinship

Karen Hunter McLaughlin, Dark Moon, Monotype

Dark Moon, 18″ x 24″, rust & monotype

Prepare for the exhibit

Several of the works in this exhibit use augmented reality. Prepare for the exhibit by downloading the Artivive App to your mobile device. There will be a QR Code to quickly link to it in the exhibit, but downloading prior to your visit may save time. 

OverUnderstory-Artivive

Over/Understory expands on previous themes that include the movement of nature; flutter of leaf, ripple of water, scatter of seed– their ebb and flow. This new work evolves to embrace the inspiring connections made by all living things at the cellular level.

“There’s grace in complexity, in actions cohering, in sum totals. We can find this in ourselves, in what we do alone, but also in what we enact together. Our own roots and systems interlace and tangle, grow into and away from one another and back again in a million subtle movements – Susan Simard, Finding the Mother Tree

Karen Hunter McLaughlin, Over_Understory, Monotype
Over/Underland, 18″ x 24″, Monotype
Karen Hunter McLaughlin, Dark Wave, Monotype
Dark Wave, 18″ x 24″, Monotype

My fascination with the michorrizal network – the symbiotic association between a green plant and a fungus- developed over the early months of the initial Covid 19 crisis. I was drawn to the deep connections between trees and fungi, how they invisibly shared what the other lacked. How they rescued each other.

I needed that in a world of news that included the sheer panic of a global health pandemic, anxious political changes, and unprecedented social unrest.

The natural world is a refuge that I explored in my early print practice. The language of shapes I developed mimic the shapes of nature reminiscent of childhood playthings. The bramble of wild blackberry, the fuzzy explosion of a jewelweed seedpod, were used as directional arrowheads moving and connecting geographical space.