Karen Silve’s intuitive and deliberate acrylic paintings unfold through layers of lush colors, aggressive brushwork and drips pushing and pulling off the sides of her canvases. Her paintings are based on momentary synaesthetic impressions of interactions with nature; a synergy of the amorphous profusion of Silve’s surroundings. She focuses on experiences, discovering life’s little moments of energy and inspiration.
Silve recently traveled to Beijing where she noted the ancient traditions of the Chinese, and the wisdom of thinking in terms of centuries rather than years, was apparent in the way they nurtured their trees. Each branch was thoughtfully pruned every year, keeping them healthy. The trunk, or strength of the tree, had everything to do with its foundation. The top of the trees had new life every year. Depending on the structure due to the consistent pruning, the more blossoms there would be. All of this resonated with Silve.
Silve has exhibited throughout the world. In 2015, her work was collected by the new U.S. Consulate in Monterrey, Mexico for their permanent collection. In addition, Silve has exhibited her work extensively in solo exhibitions including at the Portland Performing Arts Center, the Forsyth Center Gallery at Texas A&M University, the Visual Art Center of Northwest Florida, the Tuscaloosa Performing Arts Center and the West Linn Public Library in Oregon. Group exhibitions include those at the Embassy in Doha, Qatar as part of the Art in Embassies Program, The Institute for American Universities, Aix-in-Provence, France, the Jemison-Carnegie Heritage Museum Talledega AL, and she was a Resident Artist at Texas A&M University in 2011. Silve’s work is held by hundreds of private collections as well as in numerous corporate collections. She maintains two studios, one in Portland, Oregon, and the other in Provence, France.
Traveling and the unique experiences it brings has become my greatest artistic inspiration. I had never been to China, and experienced Beijing for the very first time in the Spring. A few days into the trip, I realized I was repeatedly inspired by the thoughtfully pruned trees. The blossoming cherry trees had their own vibrant beauty.
While walking around the Shichahai area north of the Forbidden City, I came upon a remarkable tree. The roots were meandering through the pathway, bulging out along the cracks in the stones. They worked their way up the base of the tree, creating a hollow space in the middle. A little higher than eye level, the trunk became solid. I was surprised that the hollowed out bottom could hold up the large trunk of the tree. Twice as high up, the trunk broke away into larger branches, and those into smaller branches with the beginning of the sprouting leaves reaching for the sky. At this point, I realized there were three significant parts of the tree. I associated them with wisdom, strength and new life; each dependent on one another. Once back in my studio in the United States, I made tall skinny canvases, similar in shape to the classic Chinese scroll paintings. I focused on three things: the strength of the brushwork, the balance of the colors and shapes, and the freshness of each mark (made visible, but not overworked). Beijing has breathed new wisdom, strength, and renewal in my life and in my work.