In the Studio with Karen Amiel

Screen Shot 2019-08-26 at 3.00.31 PM.png


I am interested in abstraction I see in interior and exterior spaces. These spaces resonate and hold powerful memories for me. I paint spaces that are personally significant: interiors of homes in which I have lived and rooms that I know. I use impersonal spaces that feel familiar and evoke memories. All are defined by the strong presence of light, and are bathed in the mysterious and the inexplicable. They are places of contradiction, loss and alienation, peace and tranquility, sta- bility of architecture in an unstable world experience, and the beauty of simple form and bal- ance. These places, seen and experienced, are not easily understood. I prefer visually quiet, monochromatic space that serves to shut out the noise and clutter of the outside world. Such space enlivens memories and simultaneously creates mental pathways to past memories and fu- ture thoughts.

I dream in black and white. My world was viewed through the blurred lens of myopia. My vision was so impaired that the external world had no definition, no specificity, but only the stark con- trast of light and dark that defined my place in this world. Space was articulated by two different kinds of light: strong and direct light, and hardly perceptible, non-specific filtered light. The bare- ly perceptible light offered a mere suggestion of where I was: unfamiliar yet vaguely reminiscent. Sharp edges and clarity eluded my experience. Light either articulated space into a bold pres- ence, or rendered it barely visible. My observation of shapes appeared and disappeared in the shifting light. My only signpost in a darkened room was the blurred crack of light spilling under the door. Surfaces became fuzzy geometric facets that pieced the environment together into a vague order, a visual exercise I worked with to create meaning and content where none apparent- ly appeared. My memory of the world altered by myopia is still part of my experience, although I now have corrected vision. My work is about the abstracted intersection of my memory of im- paired sight and the visual clarity of the present.

I work two dimensionally in oil paint, charcoal, pastel, watercolor and alternative photographic methods. My process is additive and subtractive. I layer paint, use rags to pull out images, and employ the drawn charcoal line to define and obliterate all that came before under another layer of paint. I redefine in charcoal and start over again multiple times to layer, search and intuit. This process pushes and pulls the image as if it was something that hides, yet waits to be revealed.

Seen up close, the world I see is brilliantly abstracted. A waterfall becomes a mesmerizing and moving two dimensional drawing. The surfaces of thick cut slabs from a marble quarry, on closer inspection, take on the character of a contemporary abstract charcoal drawing. Reflective glass fractures the visible world into vague transitory moments; the reflected light dematerializes, and pieces the light back together with surprising results. I am interested in this language of abstrac- tion - how light defines and plays with space and evokes emotion. In the three-dimensional world, I experience this conversation of abstract, intersecting surfaces that are defined by light.

Untitled , 2016, watercolor on paper, 45"x 33.75"

Untitled, 2016, watercolor on paper, 45"x 33.75"

Untitled , 2017, Oil and charcoal on panel, 24” x 18”

Untitled, 2017, Oil and charcoal on panel, 24” x 18”

Untitled , 2016, pastel, charcoal, graphite and acrylic on paper, 30"x 22"

Untitled, 2016, pastel, charcoal, graphite and acrylic on paper, 30"x 22"

Untitled , 2017, Cyanotype print, 11"x 15"

Untitled, 2017, Cyanotype print, 11"x 15"

Untitled , 2016, Watercolor on paper, 51.5” x 44.25”

Untitled, 2016, Watercolor on paper, 51.5” x 44.25”

Suzanne Randolph