Karen Bowden earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Art Education at Ohio Wesleyan University and continued with post-baccalaureate work at the Tyler School of Art, Temple University, the University of California at San Francisco, and Randolph-Macon Woman’s College.
In more than forty years as a professional artist, she has studied with such recognized artists as Carole Barnes, Christopher Schink, Alex Powers, Gerald Brommer, David Lussier, Don Andrews and Glen Bradshaw. She has taught in the public schools, adult education programs and, since becoming a resident of Lynchburg, at the Lynchburg Art Club and the Academy of Fine Arts.
Karen is an award-winning artist whose work has appeared in shows across the country. She continues to exhibit regionally and locally. Her work is regularly on view at the Artist’s Co-op Gallery, Riverviews Artspace, in Lynchburg, Virginia.
My mother was an artist and a teacher just as her mother, too, was an artist and teacher. I continue in that tradition. I have found that nothing is more authentic and satisfying than giving expression to what I see by doing art and enabling others to do so as well. Just as creative eyes seldom see the same things in the same ways, different mediums yield a diversity of styles and possibilities for expression. So by painting with watercolor, oil, acrylic, or in mixed media I enjoy the freedom to explore, express, and experience an exciting variety of views and visions.
Being an artist for me is not about living in the box of one single signature style. It is living in the joy that comes with exploring the range of whole, artful, diverse ways of seeing that the variety of mediums makes possible. You have to be a little adventurous if you want to create, and that means being willing, sometimes, to risk making a mess! But to create, to be an artist rather than a technician, you have to have the courage to take that chance--especially when it means getting free of one’s own predictable, comfortable, style. Variety is the spice of life because it is the catalyst for growth.
Lawrence Bowden is an emeritus Professor of Religion & Culture and the husband of Lynchburg artist, Karen Bowden. He began painting in 1997 following an academic sabbatical in which he studied with internationally recognized Zen painter, calligrapher, and scholar Kazuaki Tanahashi. For a decade he concentrated entirely on practicing Zen brush painting. After retiring in 2007 he moved from working with ink on rice paper to working with acrylic and vinyl water media on canvas. The work fuses the directness and simplicity of a Zen aesthetic with elements of modernism in form and design. He opened his studio, ART daisetsu, at Riverviews Artspace in 2008 and has had his painting juried into both national and regional shows.
I endeavor to make my work simple, unequivocal, and entirely present on the picture plane. I favor flat forms because, as Rothko said, they destroy illusion and reveal truth. When working in acrylic or vinyl, I like clean lines and pure color because they are imagined rather than given and they perform no visual trickery. All of my paintings are about quiet, aspiration, and, what I can only describe as an energetic calm—the power in the spiritual order that must always remain a mystery. Though unfashionable, they are about the primacy of being over meaning and hence lack a vulgar social or political relevance. Nonetheless, good painting should mean something—unless it’s only for decoration.
(For more on the aesthetics of ART daisetsu visit the documents page.)