Karen Hackenberg Raises Awareness with Her “Watershed” Series

By Renee Phillips of Manhattan Arts
Karen Hackenberg is an extraordinary artist who lives in the state of Washington. With great honor and pleasure Manhattan Arts International presented her with The Healing Power of ART & ARTISTS Featured Artist Award in the Manhattan Arts International “HERStory 2017” curated art exhibition.

Her artwork was selected among more than 1,000 jpeg entries submitted by women artists around the world. She delivers powerful messages with consistent high quality artistic prowess about how we treat the world we inhabit. She is an artist who deserves international recognition for using her art to take a stand with confidence and conviction.

Fossil Feud, oil on canvas, 22″ x 28″.

Her Watershed Series

When submitting her entries Hackenberg wrote, “In my painting series, ‘Watershed’, I take a light-hearted yet subversive approach to the serious subject of ocean degradation, presenting a tongue-in-cheek taxonomy of post-apocalyptic synthetic sea creatures. Painting and drawing traditionally with oil and gouache, I lovingly and meticulously craft images of monolithic beach trash in the seascape, metaphors for the magnitude of plastic debris in the world’s oceans.”

The Floating World, oil on canvas, 72″ x 60″.

About her outstanding painting series, “Watershed”, she has written, “I take a light-hearted yet subversive approach to the serious subject of ocean degradation, presenting a tongue-in-cheek taxonomy of our new post-consumer creatures of the sea.”

Painting in a meticulous manner using oil and gouache, she embarks on her “lovingly crafting beautiful images of conventionally ugly beach cast-offs, and aiming to create provocative visual juxtapositions of form and idea.”

Manifest Destiny, oil on canvas, 24″ x 36″.

Hackenberg explains, “The ‘Watershed’ paintings are inspired by the incongruity of the man-made detritus found washed up on the otherwise pristine shores near my Discovery Bay WA studio; the plastic shards and PETE water bottles, plastic bags, the mismatched running shoes, the foggy plastic water bottles, the throw-away lighters, the frayed lengths of nylon rope, the spent shotgun shells, to name but a few. I collect this local flotsam as it bobs in on the waves from far and near, and with my ear to the sand for a close view, I pose and photograph it on the beach where it stands. The resulting seascape compositions depict the beach trash as monolithic, thereby providing a visual metaphor for the overwhelming magnitude of the issue of marine debris.”

Have an Ice Day, oil on canvas, 72″ x 60″.

Born in New Jersey and raised in
rural Connecticut, the artist developed her first connections to the natural world on the shores of Long Island Sound. She went on to earn her BFA in painting from the Rhode Island School of Design. When she graduated, she moved to the western part of the U.S.

While living in the San Francisco Bay Area Hackenberg worked 
in architecture and ecological textile design where she began to develop her unique juxtaposition of man-made shapes and natural forms. Fifteen years later she moved to the Pacific Northwest, and currently resides along the shoreline of Discovery Bay near Port Townsend, Washington.

Hook, Line and Sinker, oil on canvas, 24″ x 24″.

Career Achievements and Accolades

Karen Hackenberg has exhibited extensively in museums and galleries around the Northwest and throughout the U.S., including an ocean-themed exhibition “Beneath the Surface: Rediscovering a World Worth Conserving” which took place at 
the American Association for the Advancement of Science headquarters in Washington DC. One of her one-person exhibitions took place at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, where she was interviewed by art critic Gary Faigin for a live-audience podcast.

The artist participated in a panel discussion on the topic of climate change along with fellow artists and prominent NOAA scientists as part of the “Neo-Naturalists” group exhibition at the Museum of Northwest Art.

Her artwork is included in many private collections and permanent public collections including the New York
 State Museum in Albany, New York and Providence Medical Center near Seattle, Washington. Five of her paintings
 were 
purchased for the Washington State Art Collection, and are also included in the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art.

Holy Water, oil on canvas, 72″ x 36″.

Karen Hackenberg is a recipient of an Artist Trust (Seattle) GAP grant 
to turn her “Watershed” series into a limited edition bound book published by Marquand Editions and Paper Hammer.

One of the many artist residencies she has attended includes IslandWood: School in the Woods, where she develops her own artwork and shares her love of art and nature preservation with the children living in the Seattle area.

Visit Karen Hackenberg’s website http://karenhackenberg.com

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