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.