“The artist may control the process, but the paint is always in control,” local artist Karen Banker said.
Starting Saturday, Bankerâ€™s artwork will be on display in a solo exhibit at the Colorida Galeria de Arte in Lisbon, Portugal.
The Pumpkin Center resident is only the eighth American artist to be featured in a solo exhibit since the Colorida Galeria de Arte opened in 2007. Itâ€™s also the first time her work has been recognized abroad. Each year the gallery features solo exhibits for 10 international artists from various countries including Norway, Spain, Brazil, France and Italy, among others.
“It gives me the platform to show my work on a global scale and to represent the United States in the European art market,” Banker said.
She could hardly believe the offer when gallery director Roberto Moreira contacted her last August after stumbling upon her work online. Banker said she immediately assumed someone was prank calling her.
“Quickly realizing it was not, I questioned why I had chosen to learn French and not Portuguese in high school,” she said. “It would have made for a smoother conversation.”
Banker hopes the vibrant colors and “emotionally charged” nature of her paintings connect with the viewer and produce a variety of human emotions, whether that be moving someone to tears, challenging them or coercing “a life-changing moment of self-discovery.”
“My hope is that through my work, we â€¦ more fully understand that we all experience similar things â€” deep desires, fears, longings â€” regardless of our race, religion, political views or any other separating factor,” Banker said. “When we celebrate fully who we are â€¦ only then do we find peace among us.”
She considers her art to be “abstract expressionism” that offers her freedom when painting. “I love the process of creating something out of raw materials,” she said.
Following Bankerâ€™s move to Lincoln County in 2006, she focused on promoting the local arts community, showing exhibits and selling her work primarily throughout the area. Within the last year, sheâ€™s changed her focus to the national market, she said. Sheâ€™s even traveling to New York City later this month to meet with a couple galleries in the area.
When asked about the many prestigious art awards she received throughout her career, she was quick to offer a humble reply, noting that she doesnâ€™t focus on the honors.
Rather, she focuses on the work itself, making sure that each painting raises some type of question in the onlookerâ€™s mind.
“With each answer, we take a step closer to authentic self,” Banker said. She noted that her most recent work analyzes “the resilience of the human spirit” during lifeâ€™s most difficult times.
Each time Banker sits down to paint, she said she conjures up a raw emotion hidden deep inside herself, a feeling that serves as a guiding force throughout her invention.
“Sometimes itâ€™s just a gnawing feeling or idea that I canâ€™t shake,” she said. Banker also writes down her every thought.
“I make a point of capturing and writing down the stream of consciousness floating through my mind at the very moment of a paintingâ€™s completion,” she said. “Inexplicably, the words concisely convey what each painting is about.”
Banker considers herself to be a “self-taught artist” who prefers to learn straight from the art “Masters,” both past and present.
“From all the varied sources I have devoured â€¦ visiting the great art museums and experimenting in my studio have been my greatest teachers,” she said.
Bankerâ€™s work will be on display at the Colorida Galeria de Arte through March 2.
For more information on Karen Banker and her art, visit www.karenbanker.com.