Karen Albanese Campbell

Karen Albanese Campbell

Exhibiting: May, 2018

Artist Information:

Mixed-media artist, Karen Albanese Campbell holds a BFA from Boston University. During her transformative years there, she had the opportunity to study with an original member of the Bay Area Figurative School, painter James Weeks. The faculty at BU was a who’s who of ‘’Boston Expressionist’’ artists and weekly visits to Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts gave her the opportunity to soak in painters such as John Singer Sargent and their renowned Asian collection. Every week she studied the breathtaking kimono collection, reinforcing her life-long love of textiles.
After 25 years as a graphic designer and illustrator, Campbell is experiencing another transformative phase in her art, enjoying a time of exploration to find her style and voice as an expressive fine artist. The label ‘’mixed media artist’’ describes her combination of painting, printmaking and textiles; she moves back and forth between them fluidly and without apology. Campbell is inspired by her travels around the world, her frequent and regular visits to museums, her constant sketching of people moving through public spaces and her love of nature. She strives to imbue her work with deeper meaning, seeking a genuinely personal connection between religion and art, and has been trying to find a way to speak into the turmoil of our broken communities.
Karen Albanese Campbell, originally from Syracuse, New York, has called Columbus, Ohio home for over 30 years. She has been showing her work in group shows around Ohio and the United States.

Exhibit Information:

Several years ago I saw some Japanese screen paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. One of them was of clothing slung over a rack. This style of painting is known as “Whose Sleeves?” Their idea was that a beautiful person had been there and was now missed and that you could know a person based on the personal belongings they leave behind. It’s a romantic concept that continues to inspire me. These created objects in this show are my attempt to bring to life the sacred ritual of hospitality using found objects imbued with power and meaning via their actual use and origin, combined with my imagination and vision as an artist. As I handle these pieces of clothing, take them apart, consider who made them, who wore them, under what circumstances were they cast off, I can begin the journey of knowing a person I have never seen.

The table runners came first. Garments from Asian and African immigrants, refugees and travelers had been left behind in local thrift stores and I was reminded to ask, “Whose sleeves were these?” The physical evidence that somebody very different from me had been in this place was irresistible, sad and beautiful and they led me to ask, “How can I create an object that can be a surrogate for a relationship with a person I have never met?” The table runners I created became substitute kitchen tables, symbolic places to sit together and tell our stories. I hope these art quilts can inspire us all to see the beautiful potential of friendship with people who are different than ourselves. This is the real calling of imagination in our world: to see something that doesn’t exist as if it does. Peace and community begins in our imagination.

The framed works are mixed media art quilts, initially inspired by photos of refugees. Experimenting with a variety of inspirations to explore brokenness in an open-ended and hopeful way, they ask questions such as “What is holding us together?” and “Where do we find comfort when chaos is breaking loose?” or “Whose hands are these?”  Drawing hands from photos of refugees holding children and people eating food, the hands exist on an ethereal plane, larger than the sky. But the sky has been reduced to an image on a dinner plate, fragile, broken and reassembled in a way that makes an attempt at wholeness. Ask any question! The viewer is invited to interpret and create stories of these works by using their own imagination.