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
Over the past 5 years the moon has often been a reference point in my work for ideas that seem in-exhaustible. The cycles this orb transits, and the myriad manifestations of its appearances embody the persistence of change, the agitation of energy that we live within. Communicating about that within the parameters of plasticity seems a fool’s errand, yet for my work, my voice, it is a perfect fit.
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. My use of color is as pure light, as physical energy. 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.
What is there, what is not there? The edge of “there-ness” and how we perceive nothingness is less than a breath away from belief. The surfaces here also embody a specificity of “there-ness”, and translate very poorly beyond direct perception. This work is dynamic, and spiritual to its core.
-Karen Fitzgerald, 2020