Karen Ann Myers

Charleston, South Carolina | by July 26, 2010

The work of Karen Ann Myers first caught my eye a cou­ple years ago when a mutual friend curated her into a show at The Katzen Arts Cen­ter. Since that time, Karen has moved from her col­lege city of Boston to her new home in Charleston, South Car­olina where she works as the exec­u­tive direc­tor of Redux Con­tem­po­rary Arts Cen­ter. While recently serv­ing as Redux’s artist-​​in-​​residence, I was very curi­ous to visit her stu­dio and see what she was up to.

Karen works out of her one-​​bedroom Charleston home, where she has con­verted her liv­ing room into a stu­dio she shares with her boyfriend and fel­low painter Tony Csavas. The stu­dio walls allow each artist to effec­tively work on only one paint­ing at a time. Else­where in the house, paint­ings and prints are stashed in every imag­in­able space. Large paint­ings are in the bath­room. Smaller ones are in the kitchen cup­boards. I was excited to visit an artist whose stu­dio space and stor­age solu­tions match my own.

Dis­cussing her work, Karen is very up front about the fact that her paint­ings are thinly veiled self-​​portraits. Each fig­ure she paints is an amal­gam of var­i­ous sources—a Frankenstein’s mon­ster of her­self, her sis­ters and friends—all glossed over with the appear­ance of fash­ion mod­els in glam­orous poses. The scant­ily clad or nude women por­tray equal parts con­trol and vul­ner­a­bil­ity, con­fi­dence and uncer­tainty. Often painted from an aer­ial per­spec­tive, her ren­dered fig­ures are sur­rounded by flat intri­cate pat­terns. These pat­terns are present in her stu­dio in the form of pat­tern books, sam­ples and cutouts.

Much of our dis­cus­sion cen­ters around gen­der issues and sex­u­al­ity in media and adver­tis­ing. She points out that most of her col­lec­tors are male. I jok­ingly ask her if these men are get­ting off to her paint­ings and she responds with an enthu­si­as­tic, “I hope so.” Her desire to please the viewer and col­lec­tor seem a per­fect match for the same desire depicted in the paintings.

Karen is rep­re­sented by Scoop Stu­dios in Charleston, SC and is exhibit­ing her first Los Ange­les solo show at Luis de Jesus from July 3 to August 7, 2010.

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