B. 1943 -
In Karen Gunderson’s series of "sea paintings," she paints predominantly in black, transforming the darkness into luminosity. The paintings are large, edge-to-edge images of moonlit oceans, and through Gunderson's delicate conveyance of light, she portrays the many moods of the sea.
Gunderson views black as a very sensuous color, and writes: "By using only blacks, I'm forcing the focus onto the brush strokes reflected by the light. I paint a form, an image with black paint, and the light makes them visible, like magic... When I paint an object, the brush follows the interior contours of the image. It is as if I am tracing the surface of the volume of the image with my brush... feeling it in space. The final effect produced depends upon the angle of light refraction and the position of the viewer; when you move, the picture changes. I believe I have made a new way to think about painting. It is similar conceptually to the way we view a rainbow. When one observer looks at a rainbow, no one else can see it from that same perspective, and any change in the observer’s point of view produces a new image."
Gunderson was born in Racine, Wisconsin and earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Wisconsin State University, Whitewater. She earned both a Master of Arts and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Iowa, Iowa City, in Painting and Intermedia, respectively. Gunderson has been the subject of numerous one-person shows in the United States, Spain, and Bulgaria. Gunderson has received many honors and awards, most notably a Lorenzo Magnifico Prize in Painting at the 2001 Florence Biennale (Italy), and has been named by noted critic Donald Kuspit as one of the "New Old Masters."