Posted on | January 21, 2013 | 3 Comments
Behind the scenes at ICE Resin is a woman to whom we would like to introduce you. Her name is Karen Michel and she is a graphic designer, instructor and mixed media artist.
“Karen and I were introduced by Nina Bagley where we three shared a room together at my very first Art and Soul retreat in Portland, Oregon,” Susan Lenart Kazmer says.
“Karen was all natural and chill and I just loved her energy. I watched Karen’s personal body of work grow and I own a few of her pieces. I watched her original birds grow from shabby and desolate to sophisticated and sharp…..
“This is the Karen that I have known for eleven years… Her work speaks for itself. I could think of no one better than to redo the face of ICE RESIN. Thank you Karen xxo,” Susan concludes.
Says Jen Cushman: “Karen Michel and Susan Lenart Kazmer are the two women who really inspired my art aesthetic when I began really getting into mixed-media around 2004/05. I was doing collage and assemblage at the time and Karen’s book The Complete Guide To Altered Imagery (Quarry 2005) totally rocked my world!”
“These ladies became my closest friends, and later my business partners, and I’m so honored to be standing next to them as we continue to build ICE Resin and Susan Lenart Kazmer LLC. Karen has the ability to make everything she touches beautiful, ethereal and authentic. Her eye and incredible technical skills make the total re-branding of our products a huge success at our recent CHA trade show. I know our customers at the To Bead True Blue Show in Tucson are going to be just as impressed. We wouldn’t be where we are today without Karen Michel!”
Kristen Robinson says: “Karen has an intuitive nature about her that is completely like no other. As an admirer of Karen’s amazing artwork I can honestly say it is a constant pleasure for me to work side by side with her. Karen’s ability to hone in on ones personality and style continuously amazes me; I have no doubt this intuition comes from her soul as she is a remarkable individual, so giving and so full of love. I can honestly say I am beyond honored to work with her and ecstatic to have her create all of the marketing materials for the Rue Romantique line. Thank you Karen for creating a cutting edge look for not only Rue Romantique but ICE Resin as a whole.”
Karen, a native New Yorker, came from a big family where creativity abounded and she made things from an early age. “It you needed it, you would make it first,” Karen says. She recalls one aunt taught her to knit, while another liked to draw and took her to thrift store where they would buy clothes and repurpose them for Karen’s Barbie dolls.
“I was also fortunate to have wonderful art teachers in the public school format,” Karen says. “In high school there were dark rooms and pottery studios and I was encourage to pursue my passion.”
That passion led her to The School of Visual Arts in Manhattan to the Institute of American Indian Arts in New Mexico to Santé Fe Community College. “Yes, I’m an art school drop out,” she laughs. But one who pursued her interests in anthropology, metalsmithing and languages as she continued to hone her talent. She is a mixed media artist who loves vintage fabric, found objects and color. Kiki Smith and street artist Swoon are among her favorite contemporary artists.
However, it took a longer time to discover what it really took to be a working artist and that business side was not something spoken of in art school. As she met other artists who had more business savvy, Karen expanded from selling her art in galleries, to writing for publication (Green Guide for Artists, also, The Complete Guide to Altered Imagery, and numerous articles), graphic design, and hosting workshops. “When I met Susan (Lenart Kazmer) she was a role model because she had been living successfully as an artist for quite some time.”
Diversity means less pressure for this mixed media artist, author, and self-proclaimed compulsive photographer. Her cameras of choice are the iPhone in her pocket or a Nikon D50. “I am an Instagram addict; I enjoy the vignettes people share from every day life,” she says.
A piece of wooden pallet it on her studio workbench right now. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy she has no downstairs neighbors to complain about the hammering.
When she is not in her studio, she can be found mentoring children at the non-profit she founded, Creative Art Space for Kids (CASK). It is a place where children from Long Island, Queens and Brooklyn gather in sessions by age group and each one choose the medium and subject matter of their art. She worried about CASK when Sandy left the city flooded, but fortunately the center was only without power for a week. Karen believes that an important factor in the development of individuality is when children have a place and time to be messy and do art, especially the 5, 6, and 7-years-olds, with their bursting imaginations.
And it is a way for Karen to share her love and creativity.
“The beauty of living by the water keeps me here ~ the last footprint of nature the barrier beaches and marsh islands represent mean when storms hit, we just have to suck it up,” she says. It is the place that she and her son collect seashells and enjoy nature.