Karen Doten, Issue 5
The cover for Issue 5 of Tahoma Literary Review is courtesy of Northwest-based artist Karen Doten. The cover is a detail from a work entitled Drowning Mountain.
Doten uses the media of painting, encaustic, drawing, photography, and collage to illustrate the theme of landscape in her work, exploring the relationship between recognizable space and abstraction. Her art uses layering to show multiple spaces at once, condensing landscapes into the center of the frame, so that the overall effect reveals abstractions of those specific places. The qualities of light and space that are unique to the region are a consistent presence in her work, as is the relationship between fragmented industrial elements and the overwhelming natural beauty of the landscape.
She describes her work as relevant to contemporary art in that the landscapes she explores break down spaces in varied ways and time. The locations and memories of these spaces are layered and combined with observational studies. The work is executed using basic materials such as pencil and paper, which are then combined with digital photographic media to create a notion of timelessness.
Doten says she keeps a quote by artist Agnes Martin (a Canadian-born abstract painter known for her minimalism) in her mind when she is working: “My paintings are not about what is seen. They are about what is known forever in the mind.” Her time in the Southwest also helped her to understand the work of artists like Diebenkorn and Martin, two artists whose work she admires greatly.
She has always had an interest in traveling, which has influenced her art. She recently livied in New Mexico, where the extreme landscape change had a major impact on her work. The varied layers of the Pacific Northwest spaces that she typically painted combined with the vastness of the desert Southwest to create a new direction of expression.
Doten received a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Iowa, as well as additional degrees in Art from UI and Central Washington University. Her work has been exhibited at galleries throughout the Seattle/Tacoma area, and in Philadelphia, Iowa City, Albuquerque, and other venues, and includes a solo show at the Morris Graves Museum of Art in California.
Her current studio work (including the TLR cover) uses traditional materials that explore a more complicated color palette and use of layering. These pieces are oil on linen paintings that continue in the genre of Northwest landscape, but focus primarily on light, space, atmospheric and natural constructions, rather than specific objects.
She can be contacted through her web site at karendoten.com.