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About Karen Abel
Karen Abel has worked with clay for over 30 years while pursuing a career in advertising and marketing in the Puget Sound area. She holds a communication/advertising degree from the University of Washington and has taken various ceramic and glass courses at Kirkland Art Center, Pratt Art Center and Bellevue College and with Naomi Clement and Kensuke Yamada. She was the founding executive director of ArtEast, a non-profit art center in Issaquah, Washington and currently consults on the development of visual art spaces, artist organizations, and art business models. She now maintains a full-time studio practice at Whidbey Clay Center on Whidbey Island as well as at her private studio in Central Washington.
Her hand-built and slab-built ceramic structures reflect homes, agricultural buildings, and simplified bird forms. She works with both earthenware and stoneware. Earthenware works well with broad strokes of sheer bright glaze which highlight surface textures and incised designs. Stoneware is used when opaque and muted colors are desired to highlight shape. The narrative is central to all her work; communicating stories through images etched into the buildings or through the interaction of birds with each other and with their surroundings. Stories often emerge from the marks created by the clay texturing process, which is loose and spontaneous. Groupings of multiple buildings create even more stories. Groups of birds lend themselves to a tongue in cheek approach to the narrative through the ways their imagined interactions mimic human idiosyncrasies.