My hand-built and slab-built ceramic structures reflect homes, agricultural buildings and simplified bird forms. I work with both earthenware and stoneware. Earthenware works well with broad strokes of sheer bright glaze when I highlight surface textures and incised designs. Stoneware is used when opaque and muted colors are desired to highlight shape. Narrative is central to all my work; I communicate stories through images etched into the buildings or through the interaction of birds with each other and with their surroundings. Stories often emerge from the marks created by the clay texturing process which I try to keep loose and spontaneous. Groupings of multiple buildings create even more stories. Groups of birds in particular lend themselves to a tongue and cheek approach to narrative through the ways their imagined interactions mimic human idiosyncrasies.
Karen Abel has worked with clay for over 20 years while pursuing a career in advertising and marketing in the Puget Sound area. She holds a communication/advertising degree from the University of Washington and has taken various ceramic and glass courses at Kirkland Art Center, Pratt Art Center and Bellevue College. She was the founding executive director of ArtEast, a non-profit art center in Issaquah, Washington and currently consults on the development of visual art spaces and business models.