Hard Kids, Trying to be so Hard: Karen Astrid Clark

At the Watson Art Centre,April 2018

About the Exhibition:

Karen Astrid Clark is interested in the social comment that artwork offers. Concern for people and the environment of her northern home are increasingly part of her arts subject matter. An important value in her art is celebrating the rugged edgy northern beauty and extending the invitation to others to join in regarding it with reverence.

In July 2012, five of Karen’s paintings and batiks were included in Borealism; a group show at the Cre8ery in Winnipeg, MB. This experience inspired her to look to the power of visual art as a vehicle for social comment.

Included in Borealism was a large batik titled Hard Kids. It was in response to a line of music by Arcade Fire in “The Suburbs”. She has expanded on that theme. After years working with young people Karen has seen that defensive hardness that is built and shattered, and then rebuilt. As such, the theme of brokenness and renewal is a recurring theme in her work.

In the Hard project Karen uses batik as an expressive media. The purpose of the series is to awaken empathy for the portrait subjects. The softness of the fabric makes these portraits more accessible than canvas, less formal and more open to comments from viewers.

Each portrait in the series, presents a face of “Hard”. The expressions speak of defense that is successful or not so successful at hiding the emotions within. The audience will be surprised by the intensity of expressions achieved with dye, wax and fabric and moved to reach for meaning as they imagine the related back-stories.

About Karen Astrid Clark:

Karen Clark lives in Flin Flon Manitoba. She is a determined, enthusiastic artist and arts advocate. She creates most at Schist Lake where she has a cabin for summer studio and winter studio in her home, as well as space in Flin Flon at the NorVA Centre. Social comment often underlies her tree and rock scapes. Brokenness is a recurring theme in her paintings. The cycle of destruction and renewal in the natural world is a metaphor for the human condition.