CLOSE

Karen LaMonte

1967

For more Information:

Biography

Karen LaMonte (b. 1967)

Throughout her career, LaMonte has explored representations of the human body, and the ways clothing shapes and reflects cultural norms and perceptions. More recently she has broadened her focus to examine other kinds of bodies, while continuing to base her work on a rigorous process of research, contemplation, and technical development.  To realize her sculpture concepts, LaMonte collaborates closely with her husband, Steven Polaner. Polaner plays an integral role in managing the fabrication of LaMonte’s large-scale works, which often challenge accepted limitations of the media employed. 

 

After graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1990, LaMonte began working with blown-glass sculpture of marionettes.  As the scope, scale, and ambition of her work expanded, she began to make life-sized sculptures of glass dresses, winning a Fulbright scholarship to create sculpture in the Czech Republic, and completing her first such work, Vestige, during her Fulbright year.  At this point, LaMonte also began to suggest an absent body in her dress sculpture, probing the ways clothing divides public and private spaces and accepted behaviors. 

 

In 2006, LaMonte received a seven-month fellowship to work in Japan, where she studied the ways clothing directs Japanese social discourse and acts as language.  Focusing her study on Kimonos, and their role in Geisha and Kabuki culture, LaMonte created a body of work entitled Floating World, comprising a series of Kimono sculptures in bronze, glass, ceramic, and rusted iron.  She presented these works in a solo exhibition at the Chazen Museum of Art in August and September 2017. 

 

Following Floating World, LaMonte created her most recent complete body of work, Nocturnes, so named for Frederic Chopin and John Field’s atmospheric Nocturne compositions.  Intrigued by civilizations’ concept of ‘night’ as metaphor for the unknown, LaMonte engaged in a study of how artists across numerous media, genres and time periods, have sought to express night-time.  She then conceived her own expression of night, fashioning female forms dressed in evening wear she herself designed—“female figurations of night”—and fabricating these works in materials evocative of twilight and deep night. 

 

In conversation with the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in 2013, LaMonte discussed how she creates a new work, a process that always involves research, and usually leads to a new technical challenge to overcome: 

 

…the thing that comes first is the conceptualization:  the idea for the sculptures. That’s one layer of research, which I adore. And then usually it takes months and months for the ideas to come together and a vision becomes clear. Then the second phase is realization and that usually entails a bunch of material research and material studies. Definitely if the ideas I’m working with push me into a new material, I’m always thrilled at the challenges, because I do love learning. And I think it’s very very healthy to access your creative mind to solve technical problems as well.

 

In this vein, LaMonte took on extraordinary technical and conceptual challenges to create the monumental sculpture of a cumulous cloud she exhibited at Glasstress, in the Palazzo Franchetti at the 2017 Venice Biennale. To model the cloud, she worked with climatologists to pinpoint the dimensions of an actual cumulous cloud, then scaled these measurements down to devise a seven-foot tall, two-and-a-half ton marble version.  In so doing, she gave form to the celestial, making the diaphanous solid and the ephemeral permanent.

 

LaMonte mounted her largest exhibition to date, Embodied Beauty, at the Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga, TN, from May 25 to September 2, 2018.

 

Education

Rhode Island School of Design, BFA with Honors, 1990

Fulbright Fellowship, 1998

 

Selected Solo Exhibitions

Clothed in Light, Kampa Museum, Prague, Czech Republic, 2018

Embodied Beauty, Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga, TN, 2018

Floating World, Chazen Museum of Art, Madison, WI, 2017

Floating World, Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum, Saginaw, MI, 2017

Nocturnes, Austin Art Projects, Palm Desert, CA, 2016

Floating World, Museum of West Bohemia, Pilsen, Czech Republic, 2015

Ukiyo: Sorrowful World, Austin Art Projects, 2013

Floating World, Imago Galleries, Palm Desert, CA, 2011

Karen LaMonte: Sculptures, Glasmuseum Hentrich, Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf, Germany, 2008

Karen LaMonte, Imago Gallery, Palm Desert, CA, 2007

Absence Adorned, Museum of Glass, International Center for Contemporary Art, Tacoma, WA, 2005

Vanitas, Czech Museum of Fine Art, Prague, 2004

 

Selected Group Exhibitions

Glasstress: 57th Biennale di Venezia, Palazzo Franchetti, Venice, Italy, 2017

Dress Matters: Clothing as Metaphor, Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson AZ, 2017

Connections: Contemporary Craft at the Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian Museum of American Art and the Renwick Gallery, Washington, DC, 2016

Life is a Beach: Contemporary Art by International Artists, Alexander Tutsek Foundation for Arts and Science, Munich, Geramny, 2016

Inaugural Exhibition, Tayoma Glass Art Museum, Tayoma, Japan, 2015

TRANSPARENCIES: Contemporary Art and History of Glass, Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, IA, 2013

Art Encounters Preservation, Wentworth-Coolidge State Historic Site, Portsmouth, NH, 2011

Kimono: Karen LaMonte and Prints of the Floating World, New Mexico Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe, NM, 2011

Réflexions Féminines, Musée-Atelier départemental du Verre, Sars-Poteries, France, 2010

Drapery Abstractions, Heller Gallery, New York, 2010

ARTragious: Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Annual Gala, Honoree and Artist Talk, 2010

Art of Glass 2: Contemporary Among the Classics, Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA, 2009

Hot Color, Cool Glass, Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock, 2008

Flux: Reflections on Contemporary Glass, New Mexico Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe, 2008

Shattering Glass: New Perspectives, Katonah Museum of Art, Katonah, NY, 2007

The Face of Lost and Found Again, Alexander Tutsek Foundation, Munich, Germany, 2006

The Dress Makes the Woman, Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts, Wilmington, DE, 2005

 

 

Public Collections

Alexander-Tutsek-Stiftung Foundation, Munich, Germany

Alturas Foundation, San Antonio, TX; Cincinnati Art Museum, OH

Chazen Museum of Art, Madison, WI

Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR

Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, NY

de Young Museum of Fine Art, San Francisco, CA

Flint Institute of Arts, Flint, MI

Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga, TN

Knoxville Museum of Art, TN

Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, AL

Musée-Atelier départemental du Verre, Sars-Poteries, France

Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris

Museum of American Glass, Weston, WV

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

National Gallery of Australia, Parkes

Oklahoma City Museum of Art

Palm Springs Art Museum, CA

RAM, Racine Art Museum, WI

The Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL

Seven Bridges Foundation, Greenwich, CT

Smithsonian American Art Museum & Renwick Gallery, Washington

Speed Art Museum, Louisville, KT

Spencer Museum of Art, Lawrence, KS

Toledo Museum of Art, OH

Tucson Museum of Art, AZ

Vero Beach Museum of Art, FL.

 

 

Selected Awards & Honors

Corning Museum of Glass/Kholer Artst Center, Joint Artist-in-Residence Program, 2009

Jutta Cuny Franz Memorial Award, Laureate, 2007

Japan-United States Friendship Commission, NEA

Create Artists Exchange Fellowship Program, 2006

The Virginia A. Groot Foundation, Recognition Award, 2005

UrbanGlass, Award for New Talen in Glass, 2002

Creative Glass Center of America, Fellowshup, 2002 and 1991

The Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, Biennal Award, 2001

Fullbright Fellowshup, Czech Republic, 1999-2000

 

 

Selected Articles and Publications

Laura Addison, “Hauntings in the Floating World,” pp 13-21, in Floating World, Karen LaMonte (Art Works Publishing, Czech Republic, 2013)

Arthur Danto, "The Poetry of Meaning and Loss: The Glass Dresses of Karen LaMonte"  2005, Tacoma, WA: Museum of Glass, International Center for Contemporary Art.

Tina Oldknow, “Karen LAMonte: Charting the Iconography of Desire,” 2010.

Melissa Scallan, “Heaven and Earth: discussion of five artists inspired by the power of land, sea and air, Karen LaMonte, Scarlett Hooft Graafland, Mitch Dobrowner, Nikhol Starr and Tay Bak Chiang,” Hedge Magazine, issue 51, July 2018.