About Karen Sarrow
Karen Woodward Sarrow was born in the U.K., and grew up in Missouri. She received an M.A. in Art History from The Ohio State University, and an MFA in Painting from Pratt Institute. She serves as TAG President and co-founder of Imagi.Life Shop LA; she and her family live in the San Fernando Valley.
Beauty from Waste
I’ve been environmentally aware of pollution since I was a child. At Ohio State, I had a formative class in Environmental History when the Mississippi was flooding out my best friend’s wedding. I started reading Bill McKibben in 2012 and joined 350.org in New Jersey in 2015. In 2017, I started a small shop called Imagi.Life to discourage the use of disposable plastics, and to promote responsible sourcing, and support artists. Naomi Klein sees artists as part of the “green” economy, which was an exciting realization, but also made me scrutinize my own practice.
I’ve started collecting plastics and Styrofoam that cannot be recycled, not all I find, yet, but anything I can imagine re-using as part of a new work of art.
These materials I’m now collecting, I’ve previously found so ugly, and shocking that businesses are still producing them in mass, like single-use plastics, black plastic, and Styrofoam. My eldest son, a self-described conservationist, remarked that Styrofoam is not a true “foam,” that this nomenclature is a disgrace to real foam. Yet these man-made, permanent materials have an inherent beauty.
I believe the art and design agendas of our time have differing goals; ugly, realistic art vs. beautiful, decorative and technically dazzling art. It’s not a new tension, but in today’s divided political climate, emphasis on beauty for it’s own sake, becomes more political. Beauty is often associated with idealism, and theories of superiority—so I’m treading carefully here.
For a few years, I’ve preferred elements of basic, realistic art because it’s authentic in our time—and historically symbolic of progress and modernism in the face of fascism. However, aesthetically challenging art isn’t very popular, so I’ve also created beautiful, commissioned art.
When I think about repurposing and transforming waste into art, so that many people will treasure it, instead of waste that pollutes our land and seas, I hope to make this work as beautiful as I can.
One sculptor who is already accomplishing this kind of transformative, sustainable art, is Aurora Robson. http://www.aurorarobson.com/
KW Sarrow, October 2018
Imagi.Life Shop LA 5458 Wilshire Blvd, Studio A, Los Angeles, CA 90036 http://imagi.life
all images under copyright and may not be used without permission
MFA, Fine Arts, Painting, Pratt Institute, 2003
MA, Art History, The Ohio State University, American, Contemporary and Medieval Art, 1994
BA, Art, Truman State University, 1991
Continuing Education in Illustration and Digital Art: Pasadena Art Center, CA; School of Visual Arts, NY, and OTIS, Los Angeles
2019 #bodylanguage, TAG Gallery, Los Angeles, Jan 22 - Feb 16
2018 FEM, TAG Gallery, 5458 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA, September
2018 Mother Art Show, Paper Doll Vintage Boutique, Sayville, NY
2017 Blue Earth, TAG Gallery, Bergamot Station, Santa Monica, CA
2015 POP-X, Invitational for Joe Levickas Project, Ann Arbor Art Center, MI
2015 Open Call, Lorimoto Gallery, Bushwick, Queens, NY
2015 Salonukha, Trestle Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
2013 ArtExchange, CAA Annual Conference, “Public Mural Repair & Documentation,” Hilton, New York, NY
2012 Backlash, Soho20 Chelsea, New York, NY
2011 SEVEN X 11: ART FOR ART, Urban Institute for Contemporary Art, Grand Rapids, MI
2011 CreativeLA Art Show, James Grey Gallery, Bergamot Station, Santa Monica, CA
2006 Endless Forms, Engaging Evolution, Work Gallery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
2004 15th Annual Staff Show, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Art Rental Gallery, Los Angeles
2004 Art for the Idealist, Point De Vue Salon, West Hollywood, CA
2003 Urban’s Edge: An Exhibition of Painting and Glass, Thesis Exhibition, Pratt Institute, NY
2003 Pratt Show, The Best of the Best, Hammerstein Ballroom, New York, NY
2003 A Juried Show of Pratt Students, Chocolate Factory, Brooklyn, NY
2003 CAA New York Area MFA Exhibition, Hunter College Times Square Gallery, New York, NY
2003 All Small, Eyedrum, Atlanta, GA (catalog)
2003 EMERGENCY Artists Respond, Mattress Gallery, Atlanta, GA
2003 Daughters of the New World, Forum Gallery, Atlanta, GA
2002 9-11: Pratt Artists Respond, Schaffler Gallery, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY
2002 Mind the Gap: Artists from both sides of the Atlantic, Stueben Galleries, Pratt Institute
2002 REACTIONS, Exit Art, New York, NY
2002 Bird Behaviour: The Aesthetics of Ethology, Fine Arts Gallery, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn (solo)
2001 Little Paintings, Alleyway Petite Salon, Atlanta, GA
2001 Art and the Computer, Fine Arts Gallery, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY
2001 Shared Frontiers, Science and Art, Schatten Gallery, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
2001 Sources: Art and the Universal, Bluemilk Paradigm Artspace, Atlanta, GA (curator)
Sonya's Story, Chad Renz, Illustrated by KW Sarrow, Self-Published, Los Angeles, 2018
350NJ Wordpress site 2014 - 2017
Claws Magazine, 2015, "One Big Happy Cat Family" accompanying photographs
Peiffer, Werner, 9-11 and the Aftermath, “Predator and Prey, Karen Woodward" Art Book, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY, 2002
2003 Certificate of Excellence Award for Outstanding Merit in Graduate Fine Arts, Pratt Institute
2003 Pratt Institute Student Leader of the Year
2003 Pratt Circle Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement
Private collections in Southern California, St. Louis, Columbus, New Jersey, Ohio and Atlanta
Brooklyn Museum of Art Library
Los Angeles County Museum of Art Research Library
McGill University Libraries, Montreal, Canada
Stuttgaart Landesbibliothek, Stuttgart, Germany
Since 2012 Owner, Sarrow Studio, custom painting, photography and graphic design. Clients include Alido Pavan, We Rock the Spectrum, Popzazz entertainment company, as well as designers, writers, lawyers, real estate agents, stylists, academics, and bloggers.
2012-2013 Designer, Mural repairs for 1987 mural ”The History of Encino,” Encino Charter Elementary
2004 - 2005 Education Coordinator, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Managed the Teacher Resource Center
2003 San Diego State University, Lecturer, Art History 101, Ancient through Modern Art
2002-2003 Graduate Coordinator for the Dean’s Visiting Artist Lecture Series, Pratt Institute
1997-2001 Visual Resource Specialist, Emory University Art History Department Visual Resources Library; Photography and art image cataloging