2020 Faculty Biennial Profile: Michael Kareken

My recent drawings and prints explore the landscape where I grew up in the Pacific Northwest.  As a child I was overwhelmed by the drama of this landscape—its scale and ever-shifting quality of light and atmosphere made a tremendous impression on me. Those early experiences remain vivid in my imagination. The prints convey the beauty and mystery I felt and still feel in those places. Many of the images take a subjective point of view of the landscape—looking up, looking down, or moving in close—as a way to suggest a “child’s-eye” sense of scale or perspective. I chose to restrict myself to black and white for this body of work in order to evoke a sense of memory, reflection, and distance on the subject. 

The prints are monotypes and were made by painting with watercolor on a polyester plate, which was then transferred to a sheet of paper on the press. I used both additive and subtractive processes to make the images, putting down washes and marks that were allowed to dry before being lifted and revised by re-wetting the plate. The drawings explore a similar back and forth process. They are made with ink and conte on Duralar, a drafting film whose slippery surface is conducive revision and layering. Working with wet and dry techniques, the images are built up and eroded away in a gradual process that allows me to combine subtle tonal transitions with a loose, improvisational approach to mark-making.

About Michael Kareken

Michael Kareken is a professor of painting and drawing at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He has received grants from the Bush Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board, Arts Midwest, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Vogelstein Foundation. He was a recipient of the Louise Nevelson Award for Art from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and was awarded a residency fellowship from the Millay Colony for the Arts. Kareken's work is in the collections of the Walker Art Center, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Minnesota Museum of American Art, and the Minnesota Historical Society, among others.  He has exhibited his work regionally and nationally, including in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Santa Fe, and is represented by Groveland Gallery in Minneapolis and Davidson Galleries in Seattle.