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 & 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 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 dropping out of art college in her senior year, Karen went on to seek education and artistic connection through life experience. She has exhibited extensively throughout the eastern United States and as far west as Arizona. 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 growthboth 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

Two-person
2017
Intimate Landscapes, St. John's Creative Arts Series, Melrose Park, PA
with Julia Rix

Group
2019
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

2018
Annual Juried Show, Cheltenham Center for the Arts, Cheltenham, PA

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

2016
Simplicity: Triennial Juried Art Show, William Penn Charter School, Philadelphia, PA

2015
Re.Collection, Cheltenham Center for the Arts, Cheltenham, PA

2014
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.

Awards

2017
CCA Print Guild Award in honor of Esther Rose Fisher for Dogwood Fall

2016
Annual Juried Exhibition, Manayunk Roxborough Art Center, Philadelphia, PA
Honorable Mention Award

2012
Philadelphia’s Mothers in Charge Peacemaker Award (with MamaCITA)

Grants

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

2012
HatchFund (Formerly USAProjects)
Artist Advocacy Grant

Collaborations

2014
Looking Up at the Cosmos, Commissioned Collaborative Mural, Mission First Housing, Philadelphia, PA

2013
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

Commissions

2016
Mission First Housing- Union Eagle Apartments, 1 Spring Street, Bordentown, NJ
2014
Mission First Housing Commission, 2811 West Sedgley Avenue, Philadelphia, PA

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

Professional Associations

MamaCITA: a Mothers’ Cooperative in the Arts Lead Organizer

InLiquid
Member

Cheltenham Center for the Arts
Member

Da Vinci Art Alliance
Member

American Color Print Society
Member

Education

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

1997 - 1981
Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA