The first artist I would like to profile for your consideration AND admiration is Karen Hunter-McLaughlin.
I first met Karen when she joined MamaCita (a local artist cooperative, http://www.mamacitaarts.com) a few years back. At that time, she was creating organic-shaped vessels intricately woven from wire. She stopped making these sculptures when the repetitive use of pliers to bend wire gave her carpal tunnel syndrome. The lines of her sculptures then began to make their way into her graphite drawings – linear, organic drawings with lines, winding through out. Her drawings were mostly black and white with just the slightest hint of color (usually subtle colored pencil) and were VERY personal, dealing with themes of being a woman and a mom. At that time, Karen told me she drew because she couldn’t paint. I don’t know why I believed her!
The myth that Karen can’t paint was debunked this past summer when Karen completed her latest work for the MamaCita exhibition, “(w)holons” (currently on display at the Abington Art Center until January 30th). For this exhibition, Karen was asked to create three 4 x 4’s and one 20 x 20 inch work of art. The theme of all McLaughlin’s (w)holons’ work was similar – unusual and close up views of flowers, harking back to Georgia O’Keefe but not in O’Keefe’s overtly feminine-genitalia kind-of-way.
Although her three 4 x 4’s were drawn using graphite, they were less linear than most of her previous work. Her 20 x 20 was a complete departure: a painting of a dandelion fluff exploding with color, entitled “A Milky Way When We Were Young”. Her palette reminds me of the Tahitian paintings of Gaugain with the dark color outlines of his Cape Breton work. McLaughlin’s departs from her influences in it’s unusual perspective (the dandelion is drawn from the back rather than the front) and with the gorgeous addition of gold leaf radiating out from the dandelion.
Karen’s 20 x 20″ painting from the (w)holons exhibition is on display until January 30th at the Abington Art Center. It is still available for sale. Priced at $450, it is a painting that could absolutely MAKE a room. Not as fleeting as dandelion fluff being blown into the wind by a hopeful child, this painting will permanently fulfill your wishes for a one of a kind centerpiece painting!
For more information on Karen, please visit her website. http://www.karen-hunter-mclaughlin.com. If you would like to purchase “A Milky Way When We Were Young”, please contact the Abington Art Center at 215-887-4882.