Karen MacDonald


CAAF Residency st[art]@art central, July – AugustĀ 2013




The objects I form are poetic responses to our human condition. For me, the formation and result of these responses feels like a kind of alchemy in that I bring together various elements to assist in the manifestation of new comprehensions, questions, or reflections.

The process of responding begins with a collection of natural remnants. My collection contains animal skulls, bones, rocks, seeds, wasp nests, dirt, wood, raw linen, raw silk, silk worm cocoons, antlers, a broken tusk, petals, leaves, bees wax, poppy pods, moss, fire and water, brown craft paper, newspaper, and fish hooks.

In any inspired response I select and place items from my collection in a meaningful and intended composition. Each artifact and its placement have symbolic relevance, as does the meticulous process of carefully wrapping, deconstructing, fastening, winding, and assembling the pieces into being. The process is a direct reference to Aristotle’s theory that ‘art imitates nature’.

A poetic and symbolic perspective allows me to respond simultaneously to a multitude of themes. For example, incorporating a molted snakeskin might respond to scientific, religious or psychological notions. The poetic meaning of a molted snakeskin is layered and multifaceted. It is wide reaching and can have historical, contemporary, personal and cultural significance. Other artifacts of my collection are personal symbols, which have come to represent certain emotional or psychological states and the physical sensations thereof.

In this way, I am following the impulse to imagine and participate in a meaningful dialogue with the perplexing and paradoxical human experience.

My focus for the residency is to begin to incorporate technological remnants into the work. I am curious to know the visual effect and poetic meaning that will emerge from the obvious integration of mechanical and electronic parts with reference to psychological and scientific themes.