Twenty-eight intricately-painted canvases adorn the walls of the Bryant Library’s Helen Glannon room. The exhibition, entitled “Abstract Adventures,” showcases original artwork created by local artist Karen Kirsher and will be on display at the library until Oct. 31.
From afar, each piece looks like a beautiful array of bright colors splattered on a canvas. Yet up close, the canvases each reveal a vibrantly complex assortment of figures, which each tell a story or hold a special meaning, no two pieces are alike. Although many of Kirshner’s pieces have meaning to them, she doesn’t plan out her paintings ahead of time.
“I never know what I’m going to paint, but a blank canvas doesn’t scare me,” Kirshner said. “Sometimes, it starts with a shape or a color. I just work through it, thats the process.”
The inspiration behind her paintings, often stems from things she sees on the news, such as storm damage from a recent hurricane, or other worldly matters, like political repression. Sometimes, the paintings are based on things Kirshner feels strongly about or wants to a convey a meaning through her artwork.
From a young age, Kirshner grew up surrounded by art. Her mother, Betty Kirshner, was also an artist, who mainly focused on painting portraits. Betty won a national competition and even had her artwork exhibited at the historic Chelsea Mansion in East Norwich.
Kirshner remembers her mother often socializing with popular artists in the area. She contributes much of what she learned about art from watching her mother paint in the studio throughout the years. Kirshner’s current exhibition is a tribute to her mother’s legacy.
“She used to encourage me to do art,” Kirshner remarked. “The influence of having a mother who was an artist made a big difference in my motivation and my getting involved [in art].” Kirshner decided to start painting again in 2014, but it took her some time to be able to gain the confidence she needed to really start showcasing her work to outsiders.
“I was always extremely shy and I was terrified to show my work to anyone who might criticize it. But I realized I couldn’t let that get me down,” she recalled. Kishner entered the rotating artists program at the town of Oyster Bay. She was accepted into the program and shortly afterwards, she began showcasing her work all throughout Long Island.
“I got to meet people, and get the chance to really open up,” Kirshner said. “Once I got more confidence in myself as an artist, it just felt like it was who I [was meant to be].”
On many nights, Kirshner loses track of time and finds herself staying up well into the night in her at-home studio. She spends copious amounts of time perfecting her artwork by adding additional elements, shapes and colors to each piece until she is satisfied with the end result.
“I love surrealism, a lot of my work has surrealistic elements in it,” Kirshner said. “I don’t care what anyone says. I don’t care what the rules are, I do it my way. My art is based on my sense of freedom to be me.”
Kirshner’s extraordinary artwork has also landed her a number of awards including, an Abstract Artist of the Year Award, which she won at the national juried competition, Art Comes Alive (ACA). She also won an Award of Excellence from the Suburban Art League, Best in Show/First Place for her painting, “Faith,” at the Biennial National League of American Pen Women National Juried Exhibition.
Kirshner will debut her work to an audience at a solo-reception which will be held at the Bryant Library on Saturday, Oct. 5 from 2 to 4 p.m. All are welcome to attend. Refreshments and live music will be performed by guitarist, Dan Keene. To view more of Krishner’s artwork, visit www.Karenlkirshner.com.