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Karen has been commissioned to sculpt Saint Francis and Saint Clare. 

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Wednesday
Nov262014

Gesture Speaks the Loudest

With this sculpture, I was reminded again that gesture speaks first and loudest... 

I was approached by a liturgical design consultant, and asked to create a crucifix for the corporate offices of Presence Health, located in the Wacker Building in downtown Chicago. They wanted two sizes: 16" for four meeting rooms, and 22" for two gathering spaces. Each figure hangs on a pillar in the corner of two floors, surrounded by panoramic views of the city and Lake Michigan. 

I worked diligently for the face to communicate the love, kindness, and passion of the Resurected Christ. However, the figure is small compared to the space, and will be viewed mostly from a distance. For this reason, the gesture of his outstretched arms and tilted head embody a sense of welcome, comfort, and hope inviting the viewer to look more closely. 

My artist statement is as follows: The cruciform, "Welcoming Christ" depicts Jesus after his Resurrection. His arms reach out as an invitation to come and be embraced by His love. His hands show the wounds of his crucifixion reminding us that he understands suffering. The style is modern and minimal, speaking to the purity of His mercy, and relevance today of His sacrifice for us. The treatment of the garment around his neck, echoing a halo, is engraved with the Greek letters, Alpha and Omega, which are frequently inscribed in the halo of an icon of Christ. The facets on his garment are meant to reflect the light and represent his reflected glory. 

 

 

Monday
Oct202014

Art and Life Connect Over St. Jude

 

This commission has been unique in several ways... All of my works are deeply personal and spiritual, and I truly affirm the adage, “Art imitates life” but this one had even more connections. 

Saint Jude was commissioned by a hospital close to home where I delivered two of my babies, and where my father-in-law and my husband were on the medical staff for many years. I consider it my hospital.

 The commission began about the time of my parents’ death, so I was in my deepest grief as I began my research, design, and maquette. My broken heart longed for the compassionate heart of Jesus to find comfort in this dark time. The story of Saint Jude and working on the sculpture provided a tangible focus every day to connect with God’s compassion. As time passed and healing progressed I began to think about the symbolism of the story and what it means to be an image bearer of Christ. And so now, exactly eight months after my father’s death, and seven since my mother’s, I watched the installation of this piece in the Healing Garden of St. Jude Hospital in Fullerton; and experienced joy and peace knowing that this work from my hands, inspired by God, will show the compassion I’ve experienced and bring comfort to others. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You are invited to join me for the Grand Opening and Open House of the St. Jude Medical Center's Northwest Tower. The event will take place on Saturday, November 8th, from 11am-2pm. St. Jude will be on view at this time in the hospital's new Healing Garden. 

 

Saint Jude was an apostle and a close relative of Jesus Christ. During the time of Jesus's earthly life, the king of Edessa was desperately ill and sent for Jesus to come and heal him. In response, Jude traveled to Edessa with a cloth that bore the image of Jesus's face. In the presence of this image, the king was healed and confessed the Christian faith. 

As an "image-bearer" of Christ, both in the object he carried and the Spirit of Christ within him, Saint Jude brought the compassion and healing power of Jesus to the people of Edessa. For this reason, he is known as the patron saint of desperate situations, physicians, and hospitals.

This sculpture shows Jude with a club, referring to the nature of his martyrdom, and with an emblem around his neck that bears the image of Christ. 

Monday
Jun232014

Liturgical Arts: Conversations with Roberta Ahamanson, Maja Lisa Engelhardt, and Peter Brandes

Peter Brandes

A few weeks ago, I was invited by Biola University's Center for Christianity, Culture, and the Arts to moderate a conversation with artists Maja Lisa Engelhardt and Peter Brandes, alongside author, and philanthropist Roberta Ahmanson. Engelhardt and Brandes are exceptional Danish artists who are involved in creating work for churches. Though this husband and wife differ greatly in style, both make objects and spaces that are rich in spiritual content and meaning. According to the CCCA, Brandes and Engelhadt "have been in large part responsible for a “renaissance in Danish church interiors'" over the past twenty-five years.

Maja Lisa Engelhardt, The Fifth Day #35

The following two conversations are each an hour in length and include photos of the work being discussed. In each, Roberta and I speak with the artists individually and discuss the nature of making work for sacred spaces, and the deeply spiritual process of such a task.

I am grateful to have been apart of this, and I assure you, the time invested in viewing these will be rewarding. 

Click here to view my conversation with Peter, and Roberta. 
Click here to view my conversation with Maja, and Roberta. 
Tuesday
Apr082014

Religious Education Congress, Anaheim, CA (RECongress)

 

The Religious Education Congress is the largest Catholic gathering in the US, and it occurs annually at the Anaheim Convention Center. Approximately 40,000 people attend every March. This year, I had the honor of being the featured artist at this event.

The week before the conference, our family experienced the unexpected loss of my mother to a sudden stroke. Burdened with grief, I wasn't sure how I was going to make it through three days of interacting with so many people. However, it turned out to be a special time. I felt supported by the prayers of friends and family, as well as the love of God expressed through seeing his people respond to my sculptures. Grief is a long journey, but at this conference, I received unexpected encouragement at a time when I really needed it.  

I was blessed by many conversations that took place during those days.

One such conversation was with a recent graduate of a top art college in LA. She and I discussed the intersection of faith and life. Here is her email to me: 

 “It was such a pleasure to meet you at Congress a few weeks ago.  We spoke for a bit about how faith informs our work.  I hadn't had the guts to really allow myself to merge my art and my faith before speaking to you, so our conversation was such a blessing.  Letting my faith flow into the world where I create is liberating. Thank you for taking the time to talk with me.”—Danielle

I feel like artists of faith need to hear that we are whole beings who create art from a place where our faith is integrated into our life and creativity, whether the subject matter is religious or not. Being at the RE Congress at this particular time was a challenging and rich experience for me as an artist and as a grieving woman.

Life, art, and faith flow into each other and allow us to connect in ways that are honest and whole. This makes us better artists as well as better people. 

 

Friday
Oct112013

My Studio Intern

Morgan Dixon was my intern this summer. She contributed so much to my studio and to me with her diligent hard work and thought-provoking questions. One of the great benefits of having a student intern (besides the obvious extra set of hands) is being exposed to a fresh perspective of contemporary art issues. I valued her artistic sensibilities and appreciated her critique of my work. In addition, I found that I was more conscious of my own art practice as I had to explain not only what I do, but also why I do it. Together we accomplished much more in our few months together than I ever imagined. Her presence in my studio was a gift to me personally as well. Thank you, Morgan!

Click here to see an outline of the goals and objectives for student interns at Karen Schmidt Sculpture.

Click here to see a list of the many tasks that Morgan was able to accomplish.

Reflections from Morgan

Being an intern for Karen was a rich experience. I was able to see how the business side of an art practice runs, with the necessary paperwork and systems. We also did a great deal of technical work surrounding the sculptures. Mostly in preparing them to be shown for the convention and gallery opening that took place over the summer. I learned a great deal from the way Karen so naturally embodies her love of people and her work.  She is wonderfully relational, a skilled craftsman, and a sincere, intentional maker of art. I know our relationship will continue past this formal internship, nonetheless, I am deeply grateful for what I have learned from her thus far.