Karen Hunter McLaughlin

Karen Hunter McLaughlin

    Monotype Prints

    Stones Throw Series

    Artist's Biography

    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 yet corrosive properties of rust. Karen's work is often developed across a surface in cascading or ascending layers. Current work themes are a congruence of large format, multilayer prints creating 2-D inhabitable virtual-vistas, and a collection of smaller prints that focus on human connection, much like the ripple effect of a stone thrown in water.

    Karen is the lead member of Artessa Alliance and recently directed their rebranding project as 15 members transitioned to a new collective, expanding their mission and vision. 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.

    Karen has exhibited 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 also the founder and director of KM Digital Design, a graphic and website design and development company since 2010.

    Artist's Statement

    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 to 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. 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.

    Selected Exhibitions

    Find full exhibition history here

    Intimate Landscapes, St. John's Creative Arts Series, Melrose Park, PA
    with Julia Rix

    Small Favors XV, The Clay Studio, Philadelphia, PA
    Juror: Leila Cartier

    New Now III, InLiquid Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

    Weathered, Five Themes Project Exhibit, Manifest Gallery, Cincinnati, OH

    Printmaking, Thinking in Reverse, Chester County Art Association Invitational, West Chester Galleries of the Chester County Art Association, West Chester, PA

    Gifted, Art Trust Print Invitational, West Chester, PA

    Print Explosion, Cheltenham Center for the Arts, Cheltenham, PA

    Marginalized, MCCC Fine Arts Center, Blue Bell, PA

    Visual Democracy, Art in City Hall, Philadelphia, PA

    Process Biennial Exhibit, MamaCITA, Cheltenham Center for the Arts, Cheltenham, PA

    Art on Paper, SITE:BROOKLYN, Brooklyn, NY

    Annual Juried Show, Cheltenham Center for the Arts, Cheltenham, PA

    Flat Rate Box, Precious/Unprecious, Modified Arts Gallery, Phoenix, AZ

    Simplicity: Triennial Juried Art Show, William Penn Charter School, Philadelphia, PA

    Re.Collection, Cheltenham Center for the Arts, Cheltenham, PA

    Annual Juried Show, Abington Art Center, Jenkintown, PA

    The Road to Here, B-Square Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

    Artist's Bibliography

    Trimble, Lynn. “Precious/Unprecious- Here’s the Best Art We Saw in Metro Phoenix in December 2017”, Phoenix News Times, December 29, 2017.b

    “Extraordinary Gifts, Remarkable Women of the Delaware Valley,” March 1, 2014.
    Editors: Melissa Tevere, Carla Spataro, Tara S. Smith and Courtney Bambrick

    Dribben, Melissa, “In Art, Mothers Find Way to Deal with Losing a Child”, Philadelphia Inquirer, September 7, 2013.

    Rosenberg, Amy S. “Images to Soothe”, Philadelphia Inquirer, September 28, 2012.


    CCA Print Guild Award in honor of Esther Rose Fisher for Dogwood Fall

    Annual Juried Exhibition, Manayunk Roxborough Art Center, Philadelphia, PA
    Honorable Mention Award

    Philadelphia’s Mothers in Charge Peacemaker Award (with MamaCITA)


    2012 - 2013
    Leeway Foundation, Art and Change
    Two grants: January 2012-December 2013, March 2013-December 2013

    HatchFund (Formerly USAProjects)
    Artist Advocacy Grant


    Looking Up at the Cosmos, Commissioned Collaborative Mural, Mission First Housing, Philadelphia, PA

    One Year, Collaborative Art Installation at The Rotunda (Philadelphia FringeArts), Philadelphia, PA
    Funded by Leeway Foundation

    One Year, Collaborative Art Installation at the Painted Bride Art Center, Philadelphia, PA
    Funded by Leeway Foundation


    Mission First Housing- Union Eagle Apartments, 1 Spring Street, Bordentown, NJ

    Mission First Housing Commission, 2811 West Sedgley Avenue, Philadelphia, PA

    Looking Up at the Cosmos, Commissioned Collaborative Mural, Mission First Housing

    Professional Associations

    Artessa Alliance
    Lead Member


    Cheltenham Center for the Arts

    American Color Print Society


    2017 - present
    Cheltenham Center for the Arts, Cheltenham, PA
    Multilayered Printmaking - Nicole Dul

    2002, 2005
    Haystack Mountain School of Craft, Deer Isle, ME
    Wire Tinkering - Ellen Wieske, Assistant Director

    1977 - 1981
    Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA