Walking through downtown Old City, Philadelphia last Friday night – I became quite mesmerized by a small-scale group of Karen Freedman’s paintings I discovered at Muse Gallery’s 2012 Invitational.  Freedman works entirely in encaustic, the process of working that incorporates warmed beeswax and powdered pigments into compositions, which are sculpted into definitive geometric forms; in Freedman’s case, these pieces are crafted into highly refined, decorative repetitions of form on wood panels. Ruche 0399 (encaustic on panel, 12″ x 12″, 2011) is a prime example of this artist’s ability to create movement across the board while only using a fairly muted palette of indigo blue, ochre and lavender, while red triangular reflecting points are carefully placed around the square “box” of the piece. The ground color of beeswax appears to unite all of the geometry together, as well as the multiple-curving, alpha-fading rectangles/parallelograms that Freedman uses in her background to inspire the movement of objects around the piece.

That same focus of movement by repeating parallelograms as a consistent background can be found in Ruche 0391 (encaustic on panel, 12″ x 12″, 2011).  It’s quite clever, and as a follower of decorative patterning in many varied art or craft forms, a viewer can be quite “pulled in” to the tide of a Karen Freedman work. In an interview with artist Lynette Haggard, Freedman states that she initially studied Metals/Jewelry Design in Philadelphia as an undergraduate, before studying painting additionally at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA). One cannot help but notice and associate historic patterning of metalwork and jewelry with the decorative patterning and movement found particularly in these Freedman pieces.

Karen Freedman is one of twenty-two artists exhibiting this month, at Muse Gallery, August 1st through August 26th, located at 52 N. 2nd Street in downtown Philadelphia, PA.

(Images courtesy of the artist and Muse Gallery, Philadelphia.)

Posted by:artdoesmatter

Patricia Sullivan is a metalsmith and studio artist – living in the suburbs of Philadelphia across the great Delaware River in Southern New Jersey for the past 15 years. She spent seven years prior, living in both New York City and the Hudson Valley, New York, studying at Parsons School of Design, moving onward to receive a second degree (post-graduate) in Fine Arts/Metals at SUNY New Paltz. A Philadelphia native, Patricia was exposed to the arts and music of this region since a young age, receiving her first Bachelor's degree at Temple University in Philadelphia before her sojourn to New York began. Patricia has exhibited her artwork nationally. Recently, Ms. Sullivan was one of only thirty-four artists worldwide to exhibit her work at the Center for Craft, Creativity & Design as part of being selected for Metalsmith magazine's prestigious annual "Exhibition in Print - Moved by Metal."

2 replies on “Karen Freedman’s Decorative “Musings”

  1. I enjoyed reading your post very much. What intricate work! I must admit that I’m not a fan of geometric abstraction but I find these really intriguing. Thanks so much for writing about this. Thanks also for your kind comments about my recent paintings — I really value your ideas.


    1. I agree – Karen’s work is quite intricate and it’s a shame that pixels just do not quite communicate how intriguing these paintings appeared to me in the gallery. Just as I am drawn to these pieces for their smaller scale – I’m equally enjoying your new smaller paintings, especially the 6″x6″ pieces. It’s amazing what you’re doing with the limited palette you’ve given yourself in these new paintings. Thanks so much for your comments and I’m looking forward to seeing more of your work, Anita!


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