K AREN HAWKINS
Austin artist KAREN HAWKINS surrounds herself with books—decommissioned ones, pulled from shelves and discarded. Here she finds the materials and inspiration for her three-dimensional sculpted forms. “In creating small and large-scale sculptures from the pages of [these] old, forgotten books,” notes Chris Cowden (Executive Director, Women and Their Work), “Hawkins deconstructs and re-purposes the meaning originally found there. The authority and significance of the printed page—harkening back to the first mass printed book, the Gutenberg Bible—is becoming obsolete in the digital age. In Hawkins’ work, the page assumes a different role, becoming a vehicle for nostalgia conveyed through form. Her process (like reading) illustrates the passage of time but meaning is perceived as visceral rather than cerebral.” As viewers, we marvel at the transformation, the structural elements and the forms that emerge. For Hawkins, though, it is the process that drives her artistic focus. I begin by changing the book’s structure-folding, cutting and excavating it—and rendering each page largely unreadable. Each book shape shifts into an object, not of literature or science or history any longer, but an object of art. As the meaning of each book is subjugated to [this] objectif ication process, a shifting beauty transpires, aside from any language or text or etching held between the endpapers. I like seeing the type transform, from a recognizable symbol to a simple visual mark, no longer referencing a known cue, but introducing a new language. My work can only be created by absolute perfection in repetition, and that appeals to me. There’s something very meditative to me about this motion.
KAREN HAWKINS Karen Hawkins received her BFA from the University of Texas under mentor Margo Sawyer. For her senior project, she created Withdrawn, a meditative installation which completely immersed a room with books that had been withdrawn from library circulation. She began exhibiting her work in 2009 and in 2010 was selected for a scholarship to participate in Ox Bow’s summer program. Hawkins is active in Austin’s visual arts community serving on the boards of several non-profit organizations. Her work is in numerous private of collections, including: Beverly Dale, Austin, Texas Eloise & John Paul DeJoria, Austin, Texas Tiffany & Christopher Krubert, Chicago, Illinois Ragan & Mark Melton, Boulder, Colorado Lisa & William Vanderweil, Boston, Massachusetts David Honeycutt, Austin, Texas Fern & Jerre Santini, Austin, Texas Jannette & Patrick Keating, Austin, Texas Museum Tower Condominiums, Dallas, Texas
Above: Un-Titled Red, book covers on panel, 24” x 36” Cover: Jellyrolls Installation, book pages, size variable Inside: Totem Installation, decommissioned books, 8’, 9’, and 10’ totems photos by Paul Bardagjy
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Karen Hawkins / works from decommissioned books