Karen Beall’s Over the Hills and Far Away Opens at Hunt Gallery

From October 2 to 27, 2017, the exhibition Over the Hills and Far Away by Karen Beall will be on view at Mary Baldwin’s Hunt Gallery.

Beall was born and raised in West Palm Beach, Florida. After earning a bachelor of fine arts degree in ceramics from the University of Florida in 1986, Beall moved to New York City and worked as a studio assistant, wood restorer, and circulation director for Artforum Magazine while pursuing her own artwork. In 1992 Beall left New York to attend graduate school at the University of Tennessee, where she received her master of fine arts degree in sculpture in 1995. Beall then moved to Atlanta where she worked as the public art assistant for the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games. She also worked for several years at the Fulton County Arts Council as the public art coordinator. In 2002, Beall and husband Michael Pittari moved to Pennsylvania where Pittari accepted a full-time teaching position. Beall currently teaches ceramics, sculpture and environmental art as an adjunct instructor of art at Lebanon Valley College. In 2015, she started krb ceramics to teach children and adults ceramics from her home studio in the woods of Mt. Gretna, Pennsylvania. She lives there with her husband, son, daughter, dog, and cat.

Karen writes the following about her current exhibition:

“… Plants, during the course of their lives must grapple with much the same problems as animals, including ourselves. They must fight their enemies. They have to struggle with their neighbors to claim space in which to live and gather their food. They take other organisms captive and use them for their own purposes. And they compete with one another for mates.”

– David Attenborough, from The Private Life of Plants

My work has consistently incorporated sculptural forms derived from small, often overlooked species from the natural world. Much like a scientist, I collect and study fungi and plants to serve as sources of inspiration. Working in ceramics and a variety of sculptural materials (wool, silicone and wire), I use stylization and exaggeration to create new abstracted forms — whether enlarging a microscopic image to human scale, or isolating a particular part of a recognizable plant or animal. Sometimes I choose my subjects based on visual interest, and meaning is revealed through the slow, repetitive process of creating the work.  More often, I contemplate symbolic themes while researching the specific botanical species that I have found in my travels or even in my own backyard.   Such themes include parasitic relationships, attraction and repulsion, and the rampant reproduction of plants growing out of control. These are characteristics of the plant world, but what interests me most are the ways such themes can symbolize human behavior. While embodied with naturalistic references, each sculpture seemingly evolves into its own unique form — a meticulously cultivated hybrid of sorts. Although visually diverse and in a variety of media­­, the forms are typically whimsical in their imaginative combinations of elements, especially color and texture.

A reception will be held for the artist from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Monday, October 2, in Hunt Gallery. The public is invited to attend. Hunt Gallery is dedicated to the exhibition of contemporary work in all media by regionally and nationally recognized artists.  The gallery is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday during the academic year. Hunt Gallery’s schedule for the 2017–18 academic year can be found online at https://go.marybaldwin.edu/arts/huntgallery/.