"Signal", 2018; Repurposed morse code trainer, acrylic paint, hand made collage elements, wire, birch bark.
Humans have an inherent drive to create. Where does it come from?
A detail from the lid of "Signal".
Imagery of hands occurs over and over in prehistoric art (and my own).
An inside detail from the box.
The original mechanism contrasts with birch bark and the soft edges of paint.
A detail of dots and dashes and animal imagery on the side of the box.
What artists imagine can become reality and a way to survive.
"Grandmother Totem" 2019
Repurposed cigar box, acrylic paint, collaged map, 1905 photograph, birch bark. 11" x 14"
"Grandmother Totem" is an exploration of my feelings and memories of Cora Denuex. She grew up in the North Country,
She was a little girl who learned too early about the harshness of life, coming from a rural area that was logged to build the towns and cities far away.
Through texture, parts of collaged images and color, I am trying to get at the essence of the difficult relationship I had with her.
"Mother Totem" 2020
Repurposed cigar box, oil paint, yarn and button.
My mother channeled her creativity into making quilts. She passed in November of 2020.
I do not entirely plan what these objects become. There is a call and response process that leads me.
It made me surprised and happy to see the butterfly wings emerge on the top part of this totem.
"Self Totem" 2021; Repurposed wooden diary box from artist's childhood, acrylic paint, collage elements of fabric and paper.
What imagery would you use to represent yourself?
"Daniel Totem", 2021, Repurposed cigar box, acrylic paint, plastic netting, collaged elements
Details from front and sides of box.
The relationship I have with my son Daniel is complicated. Doing this artwork helped me to understand and navigate it.
"There is nothing more thrilling in this world, I think, than having a child that is yours, and yet mysteriously a stranger"-Agatha Christie
"Granddaughter Totem" 2021, Repurposed cigar box, acrylic paint.
My preparation of this shallow container resulted in the lid being adhered and unopenable. I like to be open to unexpected things happening when I'm making things so I considered how this totem was appropriate for a person with their vast future ahead of them. A Mystery and a Wonder.
This box is simpler by design, utilizing only the box and acrylic paint in a loose broadly painted style, without many layers.
"Hands Totem" 2021, Repurposed cigar box, acrylic paint, muslin cloth, sculpted hand and knitted wire.
Do you notice any images that reappear over and over in the artwork you make or enjoy looking at?
For me, this image has been of hands.
I enjoy working with textures. For me, texture in art is like looking at clouds in the sky, where your imagination is free to enjoy every association.
"Passage Totem" 2021, Repurposed cigar box, acrylic paint, painted cloth, plastic netting.
Doors and windows, gates and shadows. are liminal spaces. In that in-between space, the future is unknown and the past is inaccessible. It is a spiritual space.
"Who Are These People Totem" WIP 2021,
Repurposed jewelry box, acrylic paint, printed cloth.
This piece is my most recent work in the totem series. It has been inspired by the 100 day Challenge for 2021 that I am doing with many other artists all over the world. You can see more of my portraits on post-its on Instagram @karen.allen.art.
Copyright © 2021 Karen Allen Artist - All Rights Reserved.