Karen Cornelius is a printmaker and new media artist. She sees her work contributing to an ongoing contemporary dialogue on identity and belonging.
Cornelius is inspired by the technical excellence and deep sense of belonging to a specific time and place that Newfoundland printmaker David Blackwood exhibits in his work. Chinese artist Xu Bing’s Book from the Sky which challenged and disrupted cultural assumptions of identity inspired her to incorporate text into her work. The American artist, Betty Goodwin’s soft ground vest series inspired the printing of actual parkas and dresses. Using the soft ground printmaking technique, both the back and the front of the parka or dress transfers simultaneously to merge the outside with the inside of the clothing. This technique creates unique and haunting images reflective of the vulnerability and fragility of life.
Nigerian printmaker Bruce Onabrekpaya’s use of unusual printmaking methods and materials inspired Cornelius to explore beyond conventional printmaking techniques and redefine the limited edition artist’s print. . The American printmaker Nancy Wells who taught out of the Bob Blackburn Printmaking Workshop in New York introduced her to the alumigraph which led to more extensive exploration of less toxic and more environmentally friendly materials
Cornelius was born in the United States, grew up in the Congo, attended high school in Kenya, returned to the United States for university, become a Canadian citizen while living in Ottawa, now lives in Winnipeg following two and half years working and living in Eritrea, northeast Africa. She travels often engaging in projects related to her art practice. Her travels have have taken her to China, Africa, Europe and the Caribbean, as well as many places across North America.
She received a BFA from Moore College of Art in Philadelphia. While living in Ottawa she studied Stanley William Hayter’s viscosity technique with Leonard Gerbrandt at the Ottawa School of Art and more recently studied waterless litho and salt etch with Nik Semenoff at the University of Saskatchewan.
Cornelius was awarded a printmaking residency at St. Michael’s Printshop in Newfoundland in 2012 and at Guanlan Printmaking Base in China in 2010. She works out of Martha Street Studio, Video Pool Media Arts Centre, and her own printmaking studio in Winnipeg.
She has exhibited her work in numerous solo and juried exhibitions in Canada, United States, Europe, Africa and China. Her work is held in public, corporate and private collections around the world, including the collections of the Canadian Art Bank, National Archives of Canada, Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, City of Ottawa, Ernst and Young, Abington Hospital in Philadelphia, Shenzhen University in China, Guanlan Printmaking Museum in China, Province of Manitoba, Manitoba Hydro, St. John’s College Winnipeg, and St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg.