Artist Karen Stewart has come full circle on her creative journey. She began her professional life as graphic designer in the late Eigthies when the scalpel, Rotring pens, steel rulers, hand-drawn type, hot press lettering and lettraset were all integral to studio production. Today she uses these same manual techniques, combining them with fine art watercolour painting learnt during her masters degree in Botanical Illustration. While her visual language has indeed been described as “graphic”, it is underpinned by an activist’s message.
Stewart is fascinated by the intersection between art, politics and science – an enduring theme of her work since 2007. Focusing on the gritty street life of Cape Town her collection Streets Ahead combines science and aesthetics, technique and cartography building on the premise that reality can be modeled in ways that communicate spatial information effectively. Streets Ahead is a collection of personal maps of the City of Cape Town. Each hand-made paper collage relates to a specific street in the city centre, where the artists works and resides.
In response to the current global warming crisis and the drought being experienced in Cape Town Stewart has produced The Weather Girls, a collection of paper collages created in response to how the weather affects and is integral to our survival. As city dwellers we tend to be removed from issues like water supply – that was until the water crisis in Cape Town reached epic proportions.
Weather Girls work is an abstract digestion of the failures and triumphs we have made as a city to combat the so-called “Day Zero”. It is work that seeks to focus on the issue of global warming – adding to the message many artists are bringing home to their communities about the need to act, be aware and change our lifestyles to combat water scarcity.
To explore more of Stewart’s art, visit www.karenstewart.co.za
To arrange a studio visit email firstname.lastname@example.org