An education consisting of a rural Mennonite upbringing, world travel, a Harbourfront Centre textile studio residency, and degrees in fine art, psychology, textiles and art history have laid the foundation for Karen’s studio practice. Recently she began incorporating collage and digital imaging into her art practice and this has revolutionized her work. Since 1992 she has maintained an active exhibition schedule and highlights include: Red at the Textile Museum of Canada in 2001; Wide Borders at the Burlington Art Centre in 2003; and Fibreworks 2000, 2002, and 2006. She represented Canada in the Unity and Diversity show at the Cheongju International Craft Biennale 2009, Cheongju, Korea. Her award-winning work can be found in public and private collections in Canada and England.
Karen’s textile and mixed media work honours the tradition of transforming humble materials into objects of beauty and contemplation. Growing up in a small rural Russian Mennonite community taught her the value of hard work, creativity and resourcefulness. With limited means and unlimited imaginations her parents (Mennonite MacGyvers) invented solutions from materials on hand. Creativity was a way of life, a means of survival. As a result of this influence, Karen prefers to use worn and cast-off materials rescued from the rag box, sidewalk, or recycle bin. With needle, thread, acrylics, and pixels she recasts the detritus of everyday life into new roles as contemporary textiles and collages.
Collage, geometry, pattern, and modules are some of the things that inspire her mixed media work and contemporary textiles.