Karen JS Tashjian

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Joe Orffeo

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Upcoming exhibition, May 10 - October 27, 2024, "Adjacent Spaces: Paintings by Karen Tashjian and Mark Lavatelli, at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY link

Karen JS Tashjian received a BS in Design, Fine Arts, and Architecture, and a B.Arch. in Architecture, both from Cornell University.  She is currently licensed in New York State.  She has practiced architecture, and taught  Architectural Design Studio at the University of Buffalo for 18 years. She has been painting seriously for over 20 years.  She currently has a studio at home, and a painting studio at the Niagara Frontier Food Terminal in Buffalo, NY.  She lives in a passive solar residence which she designed.  She is a wife and mother of four, now grown, children.

I aspire to live an impassioned life that is proactive and committed to the things that I value, to live as an artist, directed by my creativity and by my moral compass.

Artist Statement:

Seduction + Humble Beauty

Drawn to buildings of utility, I love the unembellished, un-self-conscious organization of parts, the rich surfaces, the space.  Things rubbed, used, aged, ignored, rusted.  Their systems, patterns, and patina speak without agenda.  I am trained classically as an architect.  I find formal relationships in informal places.

My paintings are primarily oil and have an architectural focus.  I am interested in how we experience things and create memories.  I study the way things are connected and organized.  My formal training creates a visual filter that enables me to see these relationships in places often deemed mundane.  My work gives voice to places that are forgotten or neglected, to buildings that are in our midst but undervalued and not seen.

I am also involved in a series of pieces I call the “curiouscowportraits”.  The cows are soulful, and represent, to me, a way of life.  They are born and raised in the mountains, roaming and eating grass.  I have seen the rancher and his wife use such a gentle touch to work their herd.  They lay a still hand on a head to quiet an anxious cow getting examined or vaccinated.  The gentleness is moving, and the lifestyle, authentic and affecting.  The curious cows allow me freedom in painting.    They allow my hand to come though my work, my colors to be free, my strokes to be felt, my vision to be my own.

I feel that my two approaches are in some way connected to the huge schism felt today between the rural and the urban sensibilities in our country.  I seek to represent both sensibilities from an emotional center.

Color is my journey as I explore new ways of telling stories. 

I am a maker.  I work with my hands. 

I am committed to the authenticity of my work in oil on canvas. Oil paint is tactile and primal.  The rich smell of the grease, the ability to move it, and alter it with brushes, tools, or fingers.  Like painting with lipstick.

Loose Precision

Three-dimensional experiences are distilled into precise organizations of composition and color on a flat canvas.  Layers of paint add texture to the ongoing story, allowing it to be discovered and live once again in physical space.  I immerse myself, rubbing and layering color and image to find the storied patina through process itself.  I often work big.  I am interested in space and experience.

More Loose Precision

I have integrated collage into my practice.  Sometimes the straight story is just too blunt, and it is far more engaging to wonder and imagine.  I am interested in the enormous suggestion that lies in cutting and reassembling, to assemble new spaces and experiences.  I have summoned architectural precision to assist in grounding cut pieces.  I am a maker of space.  That and a dreamer.

Artist CV