Crit Group Crew: Karen & Yasmin

Mentor: Karen Dana Cohen

Location: Chicago, IL, USA – CT

Mother to three children ages 9, 7 and 4

Website

IG: @karendanacohen

Mentorship Style: “Artists need to get a sense of personal agency in the world. I believe every individual should develop practical skills in the studio while also connecting their practice to their context. Finding a safe space to discuss will allow for risk taking, vulnerability, learning, and new ideas to emerge. Providing artists with a formal vocabulary so they may be critical of their work and have the ability to translate it into speech. Allowing for a free exchange of ideas and enthusiasm so the crit group may be a welcoming platform from which each can view their work process as a growth process, individually and with their peers. My goal is to empower each individual and inspire them to become agents in their lives and in the world around them. To stay connected and find community.”

Bio: Karen Dana Cohen was born in 1982 in Mexico City and lives and works in Chicago, IL. She received a BFA from The National Institute of Fine Arts in Mexico City (2005) and earned her MFA degree at Hunter College, New York (2011), where she based her art studio up until 2017. By experiencing her own family from abroad and beginning to grow into a family of her own she began exploring her painting practice as a more process-based research. The paintings of her recent work are often part of a specific arrangement based in gestures that she discovered inherited from women in her past as a mandate of femininity. The paintings offer an intimate narrative of the role immigrant women need to reinvent their whole self in order to survive, while at the same time defend their own identity through generations.

“By experiencing my own family from abroad and beginning to grow into a family of my own I began exploring my painting practice as a process-based research. The paintings of my recent work are often part of a specific arrangement based in gestures that I discovered inherited from women in my past as a mandate of femininity. In order to evoke feelings of tension and highlight the relationship between process and outcome. I approach painting in a visceral, almost performative way. As a result, my practice oscillates between abstraction and figuration, entropy and order, flat and sculptural with me using paint as a tool, medium, and subject. These mechanisms deepened my knowledge of a legacy that intersected with my aim to understand social identities. These practices of performative painting deepened my awareness of a collective need for care, hoping the works perform as catalysts for social transformation.

The paintings offer an intimate narrative of the role immigrant women need to reinvent their whole self in order to survive, while at the same time defend their own identity through generations.

More recently the domestic landscape became more contemplative than ever when we had to stay at home due to COVID-19. Every corner of the home efficiently transformed to fill a purpose, from school to playground, office, and retreat. We felt the need to escape as if by going across a door would mean traveling into another environment. Objects are steady and quiet, even sometimes unnoticeable until I get to see them reflected on my screen zoom meetings and the virtual background gives them some life. It seems like the reflection on the screen works as a portal into my private intimate space. Some of my latest paintings are made from the objects appearing in my screen background as if they were reclaiming their space. Focusing on the roles of overlooked domestic labor.”

Visiting Artist: Yasmin Spiro

Website & IG: @yspiro

Bio: Yasmin Spiro was born and grew up in in Kingston, Jamaica and currently lives and works in Chicago. Spiro’s work is multi-disciplinary, primarily based in sculpture and immersive installations, with video, drawing and performance – exploring issues of cultural identity and socio-economic issues within the framework of architecture, urban development, social politics and personal memory – often through the lens of Caribbean culture.

Light Breaks Where No Sun Shines, 2018, Plaster, Felt, Thread, Wood

Mentor: BETH WELCH

Location: Baton Rouge, LA, USA

Mother to one 3 year old son

Knows these materials well: charcoal, pen, ink, specialty papers, painting

Website

IG: @bethwelchstudio

“My critique style is highly influenced by the fact that I am an artist and a museum professional. I am the exhibitions coordinator for a museum in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I will help my crit group build best practices for presenting themselves as an artist and presenting your art professionally. My critique style is honest, informative, and often is accompanied with lots of thoughtful feedback. I primarily work in 2D, however, I have worked with several 3D artists, installation artists, and photographers in creating their exhibitions.”