Karen Cornell is a painter and printmaker who has lived and worked in the Seattle area since 2004. Her work is comprised of paintings on paper, panel and monotype collage. Distinct processes--some spontaneous and quick, others meditative and slow--complement one another and result in a varied body of work. Color is key to her work and her means of entering each piece. Movement and connection is found through the painting process and between pieces. The paintings and monotype collages use quilt-like modular arrangement and compositional space as the common thread between processes.
ABOUT THE WORK
Her paintings on paper start out as quick studies, with spontaneous layers of color applied in various ways: brush, roller, transfer, then paint is squeegied off and lines drawn into it. Adding layers and painting over areas, editing, back and forth, quick, gestural, playful, open, experimental. Painting on the floor the dance continues until the paintings are resolved. They are then arranged in series to be hung together and continue the dialogue that has been created between them. In contrast to the more layered work, her paintings on panel are more simplified compositions of color, line and form. A meditative slower process that is focused and decisive. A quilt-like space may show up in the painting composition or by hanging multiple pieces in a quilt-like grid. Spontaneous colorful monotypes are made and then cut and pieced together quilt-like. Lines suggesting individual fibers or strings interweave the blocks of color and texture together, along with whimsical shapes that refer back to Matisse’s cutouts. In her large, wall-sized quilts on paper, paintings are pinned to the wall in a quilt-like fashion. Cornell thinks of them as healing quilts, recalling the time when she lived in San Francisco in the 80s and 90s and how the AIDS Memorial Quilt helped to heal a community suffering from loss. Her quilts on paper are for places or things in our natural environment that are suffering and need our attention and focus to bring them back into balance. Nature has always influenced her work. When living in urban areas she sought out sacred places in nature to nurture her soul and artwork. Living in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, the natural world--water, trees, plants, and the distinct seasons--have shown up in her work, abstracted, like a concentrated seed of some deeper consciousness trying to break through.