I was born and raised on a dairy farm in the center of Wisconsin. From the time I was little, I have had the privilege of working in gardens. I am connected to the earth when I share the conversation of growth with plants. My room of wonder is open; I can see the unanswered questions: how that plant migrated to a better location, how the other became something different after its 5-year mark. This sense of wonder is at the core of my work and the garden continues to inform my wondering. In Wisconsin my garden has a resident pine snake. It is the keeper of the garden, minding all small rodents and surprising me. The garden is new and different every year.
“Karen Fitzgerald’s paintings transform matter into cosmic revelations.” – Michaël Amy
Matter and spirit. These two entities have a long history of being deeply intertwined, and for good reason. As we engage with the world around us, we also sense something more than what our eyes can see. What that other dimension is has been the subject of many explorations in verbal language–poetry, philosophy, metaphysics—as well as in the visual language of art. That other dimension is rarely visible. Finding a way to translate that into visual language has been an essential commitment in my work as an artist. A new suite, What the Light Saw is a tribute to the restless shifting of light and energy. The other dimensions, other understandings present in this work are strengthened through poetry that inspired the work, and the imagination it calls us to. The work embodies that aspect which carries us to the delineation, and unification between matter and spirit.
For 30+ years I have been working exclusively in the tondo form. For as long as I’ve worked on this form, I have felt that it is the right container for what I am saying: roundness is fundamental to my visual thinking. The form is uniquely able to convey an essence of wholeness, interconnection, and metaphysical purpose. My sense is that the world is a sacred place. The energies that connect us, the physical presence of energy, bind us within a vast, ever-changing roil of conscious energy. As we slowly lose our solipsistic sense of superiority within this roil, we also come to understand our place in the world differently. My work is a nod in that direction. As I explore this roil, the references to phenomena in the natural world are meant to ground and reconnect us to the sensual presence of the natural world. Often paint is added on top of a gilded surface, or gilding is used within the painting. The gilding, (whether copper, silver, 23k, 21k, or 12k gold) provides a distinctly “other-worldly” space, a space beyond pure physicality; something metaphysical that links spirit and matter. I think of this quality of space as something universal that simultaneously includes our physical plane.
Light suffuses our world – its energy shapes the mood of each day. I thin oil paint until it is in a fluid form, build up layers, and produce a luminous, subtle, rich surface. I am interested in paint that feels as though it has simply appeared, paint that is lacking all reference and history of having been touched, brushed, or applied.
-Karen Fitzgerald, 2022