Answer the Call: Turning the Lens on Photographer Karen Klinedinst

Lauren Wolfer, Associate Curator of Special Collections & Archives

The National: Best Contemporary Photography is a hybrid invitational and juried exhibition, anchored by photography standouts Melanie Walker, Raymond Thompson Jr., Morgan Barrie, Jack Sharkey, Karen Klinedinst, Ian van Coller, and Jeanette May. The call for entry, now live, is turning the lens toward the photographers, looking for talented artists from across the country who are pushing the boundaries of the medium with adventurous techniques and original subject matter. In terms of aesthetic quality, technical innovation, and cultural relevance, contemporary photography has increasingly proven its dominance as a 21st century art form.

A photograph of a lush green area with a small body of water in the foreground. In the middle ground is wide open green space bordered in the back by trees. Peppered amongst the lush greenery are hints of red, as if autumn is upon us.
Karen Klinedinst, American. Late Day Late August. Archival pigment print on vellum and white gold leaf.

With submissions for juried entries now open, we wanted to introduce our invited artists! Leading up to the submission deadline, June 19th, 2022, we’ll turn the lens on these photographers! First up: Karen Klinedinst.

A triptych of a water-y glade in spring. A fallen log take up the floor while trees stand amongst the water. The blue background suggests an afternoon light, and no animals are pictured.
Karen Klinedinst, American. Rites of Spring, Nos 1-3. Archival pigment print on vellum and white gold leaf.

Before even reading her artist statement, I was drawn in by the radiance of Klinedinst’s photographs. I thought about how similar the lighting was to our traditional American paintings, and how perfectly they capture light. We all know those times of day, when the sun is setting just right, illuminating and casting color on every surface it touches. Rites of Spring, Nos. 1-3 (above), remind me of weather we’re experiencing right now! Because of the heavy rains, the greenery is lush and alert; plants have fresh leaves that are still vibrant before the scorching summer heat. Late Day, Late August (top) reminds me of a beautiful summer day, maybe right before the leaves begin to change because of the hints of red in the foreground. Both are from her series Tidal Dream, which “explores the concept of wilderness in the urban environment. This series was photographed at Black Marsh Natural Area on the east side of Baltimore City, on property once owned by the Bethlehem Steel Company.” Have you taken a walk in a park when the scenery is perfect enough to be a postcard? The way in which Klinedinst creates her photographs gives them a texture that even reminds me of a painting! Created on vellum and white gold leaf, I can’t wait to see them in person.

Karen says of her work, “All of us have a deep connection to certain places. We see these places not as they are but idealize them through our memories.

I draw my inspiration from 19th century landscape painting ranging from Thomas Cole, George Inness, and The Hudson River School painters, to Caspar David Friedrich. Similar to these painters, I interpret the landscape and how it affects me emotionally and spiritually. My approach is not about capturing reality but creating a neo-Romantic world reflective of my memory and imagination.

Thomas Cole believed humans must commune in “pure nature.” Walking in nature is an integral part of my creative process and forms my point of view. The act of walking allows me to experience the nuances of light, weather, and time. It becomes a form of meditation.

All these landscapes were captured while walking through these special places. Like a painter, I manipulate these images through the layering of textures and colors to express my emotional response to a landscape that exists only in my memory.”

Here are some of our collection paintings that remind me of Klinedinst’s work:

We are now accepting entries! Open through June 19th, 2022, submit your photo(s) now for the chance to have them displayed at the Museum alongside Karen Klinedinst’s work! Submit here: . The National will be on display September 17th, 2022 – January 8th, 2023.

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