Karen Emenhiser Harris is a
visual artist, educator, critic, curator currently living in Sioux City, Iowa.
I was born in Oklahoma, the daughter of an artist and frustrated writer. My great aunt Edith Maida was a poet and founder of a spiritual colony near LA. I studied art at the University of Oklahoma, went to Dallas and showed some work and started writing about art, first for the Deep Ellum Review then for the Dallas Observer. I edited the founding edition of Circa then moved western NY with my husband to open a new University gallery.
I worked with so many extraordinary artists I was quite sure that my job was bringing their work to the public, not making my own, so for the better part of thirty years my creative energy was filtered by words. Language, dialog, intoxicating ideas. Then the words stopped coming. Perhaps it was time to engage the silence and leave the work to my hands.
In general my aesthetic leans on longtime visual and emotional associations with vast stretches of unoccupied terrain. While I lived in Dallas, I drove west whenever possible. Most people avoid driving through that much desert but I’ve always felt a great sense of awe at the unadorned sight of earth meeting sky. Later on I found myself in the Midwest surrounded on all sides by prairieor corn. I have particularly vivid memories of my first drive through ruralIowa, astonished and somewhat alarmed with the way the howling windssculpted the snow-- its keen-edged glistening and hard-packed glow.
The paintings/objects I make now embody moments and memories, somewhat tangential, of these spaces. I usually avoid focal points. The objects hang on the wall: slightly misshaped, mostly frontal with polished or gilded sides designed to lead the eye elsewhere. This is terrible marketing, but the workpresents a sort of shyness and sensitivity that I like.
MAH, State University of New York at Buffalo. Master of Arts in Humanities in Art History and Philosophy.
BA, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma. Art History and Painting.
Associates of Arts and Sciences, St. Gregory’s Jr. College, Shawnee, Oklahoma.
sand, rub, whittle, scrape, mold
wood, plaster, paper, wax
casein, oil, sumi ink
a low sun
its a process