Sunday, March 22, 2009

In Between Mediums: Karen Doten

Sketch Pages navigates through the atmospheres of Karen Doten.

Who and what philosophies and/or artists are your influences?
I am influenced by landscape painters such as Caspar David Friedrich, as well as pieces from the Nocturne series by James Whistler. But I'm also influenced by contemporary artists such as the painter Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, video artist Graham Gussin, and site specific artist Robert Irwin. These artists are connected philosophically and visually by an interest in how we change the landscape and how the landscape changes us. Their images make me want to express the landscape in a way that I've never been seen before.

How does your process inform your content? What is revealed to you along the way of making a peice?
For me and like many artists the process is essential. Sometimes this process is interrupted by an artists lifestyle such as constrains on studio space or an artists time. In my case the constrains are on my time. When you are a mother of a young child or toddler as is my case, your "own" time becomes non existent and so that "own" time is fought for. When that time has been won it is used with purpose and necessity. This process has created a sense of necessity in my work that I think would never have been there otherwise. It also has made me think more about a piece before I enter the studio - to plan my process. I am starting to love the idea of lingering, and having ideas and images 'linger' in my mind over a very long period of time. Maybe this will come into play someday in the work also.

Can you talk more about the philosophical implications of the white space that surround your "landscapes"?
The white space is a space that forces constraint and condensing of the visual space. I'm interested in created areas within a piece that read as an interpreted notion of space. In previous works this space was solid black, in these pieces they are white.

Why are you drawing the "landscapes", as opposed to painting or photography.
I work in all mediums, I am currently also working in painting and photography. But at the moment the drawings are the more interesting. To me its also a matter of my process and drawing is the easiest and fastest way at the moment. Although, I have always felt that there is something very democratic about drawing. In drawing you don't need any video equipment, software, expensive printers or a press, anyone can do it with limited means.

How important is the tension between illusionist image and abstraction in your work. Can you expand on this?
Very important, the work I am most interested in is work that plays between being something specific and becoming something visual. The shape of a form or the layering of forms can determine the visual depth within a space. This creates a location for the viewer which impacts everything about how a work is read.

What are your goals from one work to another?
I've been out of graduate school for more than ten years now. Its very hard for me to see or find work that really gets inside of my head and soul. But I do try and find that excitement in my work but its always a struggle.

What is in the works now?
I've been interested in old military camouflage patterns from around the world. I would like to somehow incorporated these patterns into the ridgeline forms that have been in my drawings for the past three years. I've also been invited to go with a group of students from Calvin College to visit The Lightning Fields, a site specific work by Walter De Maria. I'm really looking forward to seeing this piece in the flesh and hearing the students perspective on these kinds of works and their role or influence on contemporary art.

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