Karin Birch

Painting, Visual / Media

The imagery I use, things are breaking apart, dissolving, disrupted, falling down and being engulfed while reflecting back the guise of beauty and our own desires. This is the
story I am embroidering, abstractly and with paint.

Stitching has a reassuring rhythm. It is an action of ordering, repairing and
making whole in it’s preciseness. It’s slowness allows the mind to wander, giving
time for ideas of visual relationships and meaning to grow. The painting is
kinetic, messy, fast, accidental and without a plan. These two mediums are
meant for each other.

Why work with such beautiful materials to talk about fear and dread? The fat five
petal flower, that has been with me for years, is hope. It’s overwhelmed, nipped
and tucked, blurred out and missing petals along with all the other things mentioned
above. However, it hasn’t entirely gone away. This beauty is the gateway into the garden where things get complex, allowing you to stop and think for awhile until you fall under a spell and dream with your own imagination.

About the Artist

I work in a hybrid medium of painting, embroidery and beadwork combining the authority of painting and the articulation of drawing in the form of densely detailed abstractions. These  highly imaginative vignettes use expressive color and pattern as subtext in the unfolding play of order and chaos. My current body of work, Surface Tension explores the nature of time, beauty and groundlessness.   I studied at Corcoran School of Art, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, Montgomery College and Penland School of Craft, exploring a wide variety of fine art and craft mediums. After leaving school in the mid-1980s, I developed the idea of incorporating hand embroidery as an element of the painting, which has been my primary exploration since.   My work can be found in the permanent collections of the Boston Museum of Fine Art, the Renwick Gallery, and the United States Embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, as well as many private collections. Work was included in the seminal exhibition Pricked: Extreme Embroidery at the Museum of Art and Design in New York City.   Recent group exhibitions include Material Women at the Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery, Washington DC and Strictly Painting 12 at McLean Project for the Arts in McLean VA, receiving honorable mention. A two-person exhibition entitled Remembering at Stevenson University. I’ve had 14 solo shows to date, the most recent being Speaking to the Sky at NOMA Gallery in Frederick, MD, A Way Home at Gravers Lane Gallery in Chestnut Hill, PA and Stillness at Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery at Invoa Schar Cancer institute in Fairfax VA.   Recent awards include: the 2023 Maryland State Arts Council’s Creative Time Grant, the 2022 Create and Activate Now Recovery award given by Frederick Arts Council and The National Endowment for the Arts, the 2022 James M. Green Fund given by the Community Foundation of Frederick, MD, the 2021 READI Grant given by Frederick Arts Council and the 2019 Carl R. Butler Visual Artist Grant.   I am currently Artist-In-Residence at the Y Arts Center (9/21-3/23) in downtown Frederick, MD, where I am preparing for my solo show Surface Tension, March 3-26, 2023 at NOMA Gallery also in Frederick, MD.   Karin Birch is represented by Graver’s Lane Gallery in Chestnut Hill, PA and NOMA Gallery in Frederick, MD.

Karin Birch website Karin Birch Website Karin Birch website Gravers Lane Gallery website

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