Karen Koblitz CULTURAL DIPLOMACY A Mid-career Survey
A Mid-career Survey
El Camino College Art Gallery is delighted to present the vibrant ceramic work of Karen Koblitz, artist, traveler and educator. Throughout her life Koblitz has traveled widely, studying and deepening her comprehension of foreign cultural fundaments and artistic techniques in the countries she visits while enriching her creative base. As a way of digesting her experiences, she incorporates elements of design as well as a sense of the historical underpinnings of the regions she explores.
As a college junior (1970-71) she spent the year study art in Florence, Italy, where she developed a deep interest in Italian art. Nearly twenty years later she began a relationship as a designer for a Maiolica factory in the Umbrian region of Italy. This experience later fueled a body of work in which she incorporated surface design, sculptural elements and cultural images from the region (Santa Caterina of Deruta #2 and Column #6-Italian).
Human connection is an primary and evident aspect of Koblitz’s cultural diplomacy. She has participated in exhibitions, design programs, artistic collaborations and cultural symposiums in Italy, Russia, Azerbaijan, Israel as well as in the United States.
In 2002 Koblitz was a guest of the American Ambassadors to Moscow, Russia and a guest of the United States Department of the State, Arts in Embassies program in Baku, Azerbaijan in 2006. After her initial visit to Moscow she returned to the city in 2004 to present a solo show, Patterns of Influence, at the All Russian Museum of Decorative, Applied and Folk Arts. Here she presented her series of LA Landmark Plates, representing iconic locations in her hometown, Los Angeles.
In 2007 Koblitz mounted a solo show titled Facing East, inspired by her trip to Azerbaijan the previous year. The following year she was awarded a research grant by the University of Southern California that allowed for a second trip to Azerbaijan and a second solo exhibition in Los Angeles, titled Earth Tones. Her potent installations, The Tattoo Series and Life Cycle reference the second trip to this country.
In 2010 Koblitz was the keynote speaker at a ceramics symposium in Umm El Fahem, Israel. A group of artists from Israel ( Jewish, Muslim, Christian), Azerbaijan and Turkey also participated in this symposium. Homeland and Sorrow are works that reference her experience of this part of the world.
In her most recent body of work, Objects of Memory, Koblitz explores the territory of memory-specifically the home in which she grew up. Through the ghostly and colorless recreation of culturally varied furniture and objects of art from her parents’ home she makes an interior journey and investigates the roots of her own identity.
Last and not least, Koblitz taught ceramics at the University of Southern California for more than twenty years and influenced a generation of younger artists through her enthusiasm for cross-cultural pollination supported by a strong technical base. Anyone lucky enough to have enjoyed her as a teacher is a stronger artist from the experience.
It is with great enthusiasm the El Camino College presents this mid career survey of the prodigious artist and cultural diplomat, Karen Koblitz.