Paintings by Karen Albanese Campbell
I have never experienced homelessness. I have never been a refugee. I have never needed to carry my children while fleeing a war. I have never been forced to find shelter for my children, only to end up sleeping under a tarp outside. As an artist, I can bear witness to the experience of displaced people and reach towards understanding and relationship with the unique human beings caught in this global phenomenon. Using my imagination, and whatever creative tools and skills I have at my fingertips, I am processing my own rush of emotions as I observe what is happening around the world, at our southern border and in my own neighborhood. I’m not attempting to make a political statement. I’m not trying to explain what is happening and has been happening throughout history. This series of work is giving space for me to work out my own feelings, thoughts and questions about what I am observing. I feel that in these paintings I am, as in all my previous work on this theme, searching for what is most human, beyond the news photos and all the imagery that has become iconic at this point. This work gives me a space for hope and healing. In acrylic paint on irregularly shaped canvases, “The Travelers” depict individuals and small families adorned with clouds and sky imagery. They are bound with mylar from rescue “space” blankets. They retain the irregular shape of piles of blankets. The inspiration for the patterns of the sky came from observing a discarded mirror-clad table I found on the tree-belt in my neighborhood. It reflected the sky and was nearly invisible until I came close enough to see what it really was.
“Strength and dignity are her clothing and she smiles at the future.”