Get to know...Karen Vogel, a Darien print-maker
DARIEN — Around Karen Vogel’s Norwalk studio are paintings with layers of letters. The Darien print-maker and painter uses them to communicate a message — how we’re not communicating with those around us.
“My recent work is a reaction to the lack of communication in society,” she said. “I work with letters as a shout-out to the fact that we’re not communicating. I feel its negative impact on society.”
Vogel’s recent work is being shown at The Lionheart Gallery in Pound Ridge, N.Y. The exhibit “Postscript,” opening May 6, explores this shift, this breakdown in societal communication.
The exhibit is one of many times Vogel’s work has been displayed over the course of her long career. Vogel began painting when she was only in elementary school.
“My mother always encouraged me to paint,” she said. “I started young with an art teacher. In high school, I had an influential art teacher and that set my course.”
After graduating high school in New Jersey, Vogel studied painting at Endicott College in Massachusettes before going on to study painting and drawing at various schools around the country, including The Art Students’ League in New York, The San Francisco Art Institute and The Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, D.C.
Living, studying and creating around the country has also played a role in her work.
“They’re all different approaches, different schools,” she said. “The East Coast is different from the West Coast. The subject matter is looser.”
Vogel and her husband moved to Darien 25 years ago when her husband got a job in New York City. Here, she began teaching local classes, as well as working in a rented studio. About 13 years ago, she discovered printmaking at The Center for Contemporary Printmaking in Norwalk and has incorporated it in her artwork ever since.
“Each influences the other,” she said. “It’s really fun. Printmaking is about making layers and textures. I’m very attracted to surfaces that have a lot of textures.”
Vogel spends most of her days working on prints and paintings in her studio while listening to podcasts, NPR, jazz or blues. When beginning a new piece, she starts by constructing the background and then edits the painting, often working with layers of texture and images in her work.
“Recently, I’ve gotten into painting with an emphasis on graphics,” she said. “My background is very studio and I’m attracted to abstract painting. I love the layers and with printmaking, I love making layers at a time.”
Though she describes the process of tweaking and re-tweaking her work “torturous,” Vogel said she enjoys the final product that comes out of each piece of work.
“It’s a constant surprise,” she said. “I’ve never stayed with the same style. I always want to take it to the next level. That’s what’s exciting, pushing yourself. For me, it’s an experience. There’s moments where you go ‘wow!’ and moments where you go ‘yuck!’ It never stays the same.”
See the exhibit
“Postscript” is at The Lionheart Gallery at 27 Westchester Ave. in Pound Ridge, N.Y. from May 6 through July 2. The opening reception is May 6 at 4 p.m. For more information, visit thelionheartgallery.com.