Artist Statement

Karen Hunter McLaughlin, Redwood Forest<br />

So much has changed in this past half-decade. We’ve gained and lost so much– gained knowledge, lost time, gained ways to stay connected, and lost actual connections. My current work themes explore connections and relationships, both large and small– everything from the wonder of art and physics to the intimate connections of self and consciousness. This body of work embraces the inspiring connections made by all living things at the cellular level.

Symmetry expands on these long-held interests. Along with exploring a fascination with the mycorrhizal network – the symbiotic association between trees and fungi, this work investigates kinship with the more-than-human world, and a dive into “Ki”, Robin Wall Kimmerer’s suggested pronoun for other-than-human. I’m drawn to these networks’ mystery and boundless synergies, how they invisibly share what the other lacks– how they rescue each other. Symmetry is an important and prominent feature of the visual world. It has been studied as a basis for image segmentation and perceptual organization, but it also plays a role in higher-level processes, such as face and object perception.

Employing mediums that consist of rust, botanical dyes, gold leaf, and watercolor, I employ a language of shapes that mimic the threadlike hyphae of mycelium. These same marks are often used to illustrate galactic space, brain synapses, and other human, and non-human body systems. They are perfect symbols of the matrices that support the essential nexus of human connection.

Through augmentation of some of my work, I aim to free elements, transcending the immovable properties of 2D art. In creating a sensory experience for the work, my intention is to spark awe and wonder at the beauties and mysteries of nature. All augmented reality (AR) is created and viewed with the freely distributed Artivive App.


Karen Hunter McLaughlin is a lifelong Philadelphia artist who has worked in traditional 2-D mediums as well as steel wire sculpture, and digital new media. She is currently exploring the fine art of monotype and the spontaneous, corrosive properties of rust. Her work is often developed across a surface in cascading or ascending layers that represent movement, bespeaking the passage of time. Karen introduced new media work in augmented reality during a six month artist residency at Cheltenham Center for the Arts in 2021. This new media work allows her to add an another dimension off the page, while finally integrating her longtime digital and analog mediums.

Karen has been a member of Artessa Alliance, a women’s artist cooperative since 2007. She has been 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. Both a mentoring project and art collaboration, One Year was mounted with assistance from Philadelphia anti-violence group- Mothers in Charge.

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 as in 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 was founder and director of KM Digital Design, a graphic and website design and development company from 2010 to 2023.

Selected Exhibitions

2024Converge: 9th Benefit Exhibition, Bridgette Mayer Gallery, June-August, Philadelphia PA
2024Golden Thread, Solo Exhibit, Winter Solo Series at Abington Art Center, January, Abington, PA
2023Matter and Energy, Biennial exhibition with artist collaborative Artessa Alliance, Cheltenham Center for the Arts, Cheltenham, PA
2023Crafting Nature, depicting the various ways humans interact with the natural world, April 2-June 3, Inliquid Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
2023Interconnection, a reflection on artistic relationships with the more-than-human world, Jan-Feb, Awbury Arboretum, Philadelphia, PA
2022Group Exhibition, an exploration of destruction and rebirth, Juror Leah Appleton, OCJAC Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
2022Annual Juried Exhibition – Split, Juror Riley Strong, Abington Art Center, Abington, PA
2021Over-Understory,  Solo Exhibit in support of a Cheltenham Center for the Arts Print Residency, Cheltenham PA
2021Kinship, Augmented Reality installation, High School Park, Elkins Park, PA
2021Monitor & Adjust, Clay on Main, 313 Main St. Oley PA
2021Ebb & Flow, PII Gallery, 242 Race Street Philadelphia, PA 19106
2021Apart:Together, Artessa Alliance Group Show at Cheltenham Center for the Arts, Deeper Look
2020Artists in the Time of Corona, An Ongoing Virtual Exhibition, Part 24, The Art Blog


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
2007- Book/Printmaking- Erin Tohill Robin- Cheltenham Arts Center
2017-2023- Multilayer Printmaking with Nicole Dul, Cheltenham Center for the Arts

Professional Associations

Inliquid- Member
Cheltenham Center for the Arts- Member
Artessa Alliance, Cooperative in the Arts:

Awards and Grants

Cheltenham Center for the Arts Print Residency, January-September, 2021
CCA 80th Annual Member Show, Print Guild Award for Bloodline, January 2021
CCA Print Guild Award in honor of Esther Rose Fisher for Dogwood Fall, January 2017
Honorable MentionManyunk 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


Brandywine Art Guide: Solo Series at Abington Art Center, Article by Victoria Rose in Chadds Ford Live, January 13, 2024
Art Watch Radio Podcast Interview with Rebecca Shultz & Guest Host Constance McBride- Artessa Alliance Reinvention, May 27, 2020
Artists in the time of Coronavirus, an ongoing virtual exhibition, Part 24, Artblog, April 28, 2020
The Whitman EffectHunter 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 –
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