“In a photograph taken in 1972, a young Karen Carson is caught in the process of composing one of the several possible configurations of a large wall piece constructed of zippers and bold triangulate shapes of white and black cloth. She had recently received her M.F.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles, and, in an auspicious debut, had shown an installation of the Zipper pieces at the Long Beach Museum of Art and a walk-in environmental work at the Brand Library in Glendale.
The Zippers were smart, ambitious work for a recent graduate. Providing viewers the opportunity to make and alter various configurations, they established a literal experience of shifting planes. To this cubist underpinning, Carson brought a mix of contemporary postminimalist concerns: viewer participation, chance processes, the consequences of gravity, a fusion of conceptual simplicity and perceptual complexity, and the surprise of soft constructions, common materials, and domestic sewing techniques. Carson thought of them as “soft Donald Judds” – and as “toys” and “game pieces.” But, for all of their strategic shrewdness, the intrigue of the Zippers lies in their underlying emotionality. They suggest a risky engagement with a high-strung aesthetic enticement to turn pictorial space inside out, although the surreal sense of jeopardy or entrapment is more evident in hindsight than it was at the time the Zippers were made. Carson, after all, soon retreated from the potentially messy center and began her rigorous analysis of the language of space. The Zippers announced her adventure as both a complex formal investigation and a search for her own space – for resituating her emotional self in the center of her art.”
Rosamund Felsen Gallery is pleased to celebrate, with a comprehensive exhibition, the seminal body of works by Karen Carson – the Zipper series. Twenty-five of these works were originally produced between 1972 and 1975, a selection of which are included in Carson's 2016 exhibition. Additionally, the artist has updated the series with three new versions. These new works will revisit the format of the originals but are newly energized with bursts of pink and red, with new configurations that reflect a full career's experience of pictorial invention. Carson’s oeuvre can be characterized by a succession of bold shifts; each whose fulfillment marks the advent of a distinctly new approach to her art making. Revisiting the Zipper series, through both exhibiting the original works as well as reinvigorating with new ones, represents a new kind of innovation for the artist – a return to form, space, and the origins of a remarkable career.
Karen Carson’s artworks are in the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA), and the Long Beach Museum of Art.