Greenville, North Carolina’s own Emerge Gallery and Art Center has selected Karen S. Warren, jeweler, artist and owner of Karen S. Waren Art and Doe Run Studios, who is also a East Carolina University alumna, as the featured artist of the month for Feburary as she contiutes to dedicate her retirement to create mixed media collages and paintings.
When Warren retired from her career as a registered dietician, she said she wanted to pursue her art, so she began to take classes at Emerge and the Greenville Museum of Art (GMoA). She said she took metal work, painting, pottery and mixed media classes.
“Their (Emerge and GMOA) classes are fantastic because they will take you at any level and the people (in the class) who are a little more experienced help the people who are less experienced. It (Emerge) really has a community feel, the Pitt County Arts Council, they do a lot for the community,” Warren said.
Art was an interest of Warren’s throughout her childhood, and she said art is a way to express oneself and connect with other people.
Warren said she was surprised she was chosen to be featured this month out of all of the talented artists who work with Emerge.
“Especially because I started taking classes there and now just a few years from being a student there to being artist of the month was exciting,” Warren said.
Warren was an art major when she first enrolled in college, but she did not have the confidence at the time to fully pursue an art degree, she said. Warren said she decided to pursue a career in nutrition and has no regrets from her decision.
The first art business venture Warren said she decided upon was Doe Run Studios, her jewelry company. The name of her business came from the road on which she and her husband built their cabin in Boone, North Carolina, she said. Warren said they built the cabin because the couple needed a get away place to escape from the day-to-day work lifestyle.
“Originally, the only place I had time to make my jewelry was on Doe Run Road, and one of the first places I sold it was in a couple of the art shops in the mountains,” Warren said.
Whenever she hears about a new technique or material she likes to experiment and learn new art techniques, according to Warren.
The artist community is very supportive, according to Warren. She said she is a part of artist communities online where artists help each other with materials and information on different techniques.
“One thing about artists, they are extremely generous. If you ask somebody ‘how did you do that?’ If you are interested in what they are doing they are going to want to talk about it and tell you about it,” Warren said.
Now, she is focused more on her artwork which is branded as “Karen S. Warren Art,” Warren said. She said in March, her jewelry and artwork will be available for purchase at The Wander Co., located at 132 South Market St. in Washington, North Carolina.
Warren said people who want to purchase her artwork can find it at the Emerge online sales gallery website, the GMOA, or by contact through her Instagram and Facebook pages as well as through email at email@example.com.
“I really want it (artwork) to be interpreted by the person who is looking at it. I want people to be able to look at it and feel something and connect with my art in some way and maybe something completely different from what I was thinking when I made it,” Warren said.
Sarah Lazure, marketing coordinator at Emerge Gallery and Art Center, said it is difficult to choose an artist to feature each month, so she picks 12 artists and puts their names in a hat to pick one for each month.
Lazure said in addition to being artist of the month, Warren donated a handmade book titled “Moon Book” to the current Tiny Art Show auction at Emerge. She said the book contains mixed media moon compositions.
“I’ve really enjoyed watching her (Warren) embrace her mixed media work and just having fun. You can see that energy in the work,” Lazure said.
Warren currently makes mixed media collages and paintings that require printmaking techniques, Lazure said.
The collages and paintings are “layered” with text and imagery, according to Lazure. She said Warren’s work is clean and uses a lot of color.
“There are historical elements and iconic imagery. They (Warren’s jewelry and artwork) are definitely both her,” Lazure said.
Sim Asher, the communications and events coordinator at the GMOA, said in an email statement he was introduced to Warren by a mutual friend and business owner a few years ago, Asher said in an email statement.
Asher said Warren has remained a supporter and extended family of GMOA over the years. He said he recalls when he purchased a necklace she made at Emerge’s Annual Holiday Sale.
“Karen’s work has a unique way of capturing the audience’s attention. Perhaps most fascinating to me, is her use of blending realism into a several depths of surrealism through layering several types of media, whether it's collaging, painting, coloring, inking, etc.,” Asher said.
Warren uses materials such as encaustics, paint made with melted beeswax and resin, metals and other materials to make jewelry, according to Asher. He said Warren uses her mixed media abilities to her advantage and she understands and applies color accurately.
Asher said Warren’s artwork keeps the viewer’s eyes moving in an imaginable direction and describes the compositions and landscapes as “fluid” and “dreamlike.”
“A trip down Karen’s (Warren) style is nothing short of a fairytale, but not the storybook type – more of a fluid adventure. In short, she’s dynamic,” Asher said.
Warren has jewelry for sale in the GMOA gift shop, Asher said. He said Warren participates in auction and raffle events when GMOA needs artists to cosign or donate original artwork pieces.
Asher said he encourages people to view Warren’s work on her Instagram page and to purchase her artwork.