We loved getting a peek into the Mind of Karen Zens, artist, native Washingtonian, and world traveler. Especially as we hit our 45th Anniversary year, we are struck by the constant ripple of movement that characterizes DC: both the seat of government, the solid home to so many, but also a stopover, a transitory phase, a migration in and out. We feel particularly grateful to have persisted in this spot on 7th & G SE despite (or, perhaps, because of) that very cyclical nature of our city. And we are even happier to welcome artists back when they close the loop and return to our neighborhood after years away! We hope you enjoy this lovely story of what we take with us–and what we bring back–through the arts.
I am a native Washingtonian who grew up on Capitol Hill. I spent much of my adult life elsewhere, including overseas in the Foreign Service, but I was very happy to resettle on Capitol Hill when I retired. I particularly have enjoyed the supportive arts community on the Hill.
I have been painting and drawing on and off for the past 25 years. I think I began it as a way to process the wonderful places and objects I encountered during my diplomatic career. Russian icons, Islamic tiles, earthenware pots, Italian light, desert landscapes and Mexican color have all influenced my art. My subject matter tends to be abstracted landscapes or architecture but I also love the shape and feel of pots and they often appear in my work.
I have taken art courses and workshops here and abroad whenever I could fit them in with my “day job” and more steadily since I retired. I love color and the feel of paper so I was drawn early on to watercolor. (It was also easily transportable for a career that required frequent moves.) More recently I have been adding mixed media – pastel, crayon, acrylic – and collage. I also have been experimenting with printmaking, especially the collagraph process, which adds a rich texture to the paper. I am still learning – I enjoy letting the right side of my brain have fun!
Don’t miss the April 22 opening of the next CHAL show–and, in the meantime, come check out our Artist in Residence in the Gallery to get more Mind of the Artist!