Karina Hean’s Interactions With The Environment

By Shannon Gallagher, MAM

Multi-media artist Karina Hean’s childhood in Maryland on the Chesapeake Bay, and various interactions with the environment, have greatly influenced her work. However, much of the landscape imagery in her work stems from a relationship with a variety of different terrains, including the California coastline, the deserts and mountains of New Mexico and Utah, national parks in Arkansas, and the rapidly changing weather in coastal Ireland.

Tidal 12.5" x 17" multi media


Hean’s work, although grounded in drawing, explores all aspects of the medium. She utilizes graphite, charcoal, and conte crayon, as well as watercolor, gouache, ink, and acrylic paint to create multi-dimensional, textural interpretations of the natural world. The work is intuitive, especially in her smaller pieces. She said, “The addition of one component might yield the need for other components to be added or adjusted. I have worked in this manner for over a decade, which creates a rhythm, but can also be predictable at times.” Hean finds that this creates a need to be open- although she may have a vision of what the piece will look like in terms of structure, how that might come into clarity (in terms of depth and color) is variable.

Hean’s pieces range from small and intimate (11 x 17”) to large and boisterous (52 x 72”). She describes the manner in which she works at various scales as widely different. “The large scale works require a lot of physical energy, space, and confidence- both to create the work and to really seeit. It is very gestural, and I must genuinely believe in the next mark I am going to make. The large pieces allow me to create a balance of being brash, loud, and rambunctious versus quiet, sensitive, and shy. The smaller work is a little more refined- each decision is carefully made, and I must edit the marks more thoroughly.”

Field Notes III 11" x 17" watercolor gouache graphite

Numerous artist residencies have provided Hean with an opportunity to conceive new work, as well as an invigorating experience to encourage the creation process. Travel and change have been a great source of stimulation and inspiration. “These residencies have been excellent, because they allow me to take the landscape in, and see new forms and structures. It prevents stagnation, because each place has something new to offer.”  Hean was able to spend a longer period of time in Ireland than other residencies, which made the experience more impactful. “The dramatic weather landscape there is a balance of drama and rationality, which resulted in a struggle to make reason with emotional weather or impassable landscapes. There could be gale force storms one minute, and sunshine and rainbows the next, which was great. The west coast provided plenty of space to spend all day wandering the rocky beaches. The beaches were strewn with kelp, piled up from the tides. The tangled heaps of kelp were vibrantly hued, visceral, and fleshy. The interweaving, repetitive network of forms inspired me then, and the photographs I took while I was there continue to inform my work. I saw tidal pools rich with life, sea anemones, and amazing ranges of hues. This really hit a palette note, and birthed a brand new brazenness with color in my work, as I had previously worked in a more monochromatic manner.”

Hean also utilizes physical activity, music, and other forms of art to stimulate her creativity. “When all is right in the world, I get to run every day and hike a few times a week. That’s a big part of the work, and Santa Fe is a great access point for these things. The work benefits from this because it creates a sense of motion. I play music, purely as an amateur, and reading poetry and literature also comes into play. Other forms of art tend to feed into both what happens in the piece and how I come to understand it.”

Tangled Up I 36" x 72" on paper

Karina Hean’s organic, abstract works evoke polar feelings of chaos and calm by juxtaposing imagery derived from landscapes, weather patterns, and colors in the natural world. The color palette and physical structure present in her work, combined with a layered composition, result in exciting, enigmatic mixed media drawings and paintings that leave the viewer intrigued and aesthetically stimulated. Her work is display, along with paintings by Charles Gniech, through November 24, 2012 at ZIA Gallery.


The Collective Impact Of Arts And Culture

By Shannon Gallagher, MAM

Art has the power to propel our thought process to the next level. From the beginning of time, people have used art to communicate, express feelings, reflect on the past, and consider the future. The creation process forces the artist to discard assumptions, make connections, and create new meanings. It is obvious to many of us that art has immeasurable positive effects on both the creator and the viewer, but sadly, many people do not consider art to be something valuable and imperative to the growth of society.

Kathy Weaver Pandora Surprise

Arts and culture provide numerous benefits for both the individual and his or her larger community. These benefits are branched into five categories: cognitive, behavioral, social, economic, and health/wellness. Arts programming has inherent positive effects on the individual and society as a whole:

Cognitive: Improved performance/test scores, increased reading and math scores, notably higher SAT scores, overall promotion of the learning process.

Behavioral:The arts teach its participants important lessons that are crucial for those who will go on to work as adults- these include accountability, consequences, discipline, trust, and teamwork. Developing social bonds with at-risk youth through arts organizing has also had a positive effect on the children.

Zoriah Miller

Social:            The arts increase community organizing, volunteering, and community interaction, provide a sense of community identity, and increase social capital. They also empower the community to collectively organize for various causes.

Economic: Employment, tax revenue, spending (direct benefits), as well as the indirect benefit of attracting those who are interested in the arts to the areas where arts programs exist, and the “public good” benefit of increasing the overall quality of life within the community.

Deanna Kreuger Peridot Tempest


Bob Krist  Infrared Icelandic Church

Bob Krist Infrared Icelandic Church

Health and Wellness: The arts have been shown to lower stress and anxiety and increase overall mental and physical health. Arts participation has proven to help individuals suffering from varying diagnoses, such as dementia from Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, depression, acute pain, and mental or physical handicaps.

Some of these benefits, although intrinsic, also impact the community by teaching community members valuable attributes, such as discipline, teamwork, pride, and responsibility. These benefits are most often reaped when exposure to the arts starts at a young age, as a “gateway experience” for school age children. Sustained involvement is crucial in building momentum and public worth for any arts related organization, and the arts in general.

The arts bridge social boundaries by uniting people of various ages, genders, ethnicities, and occupational statuses. They encourage trust, solidarity, and diversity. They increase individual and community assets and foster an environment where people collaborate and work together to imagine change and achieve goals. Arts advocacy is imperative, because the arts can assist in expanding social capital. Generally, community developers consider only the physical infrastructure and economic development of an area. The arts should be integrated, however, because we know that the arts are good public practice. They create jobs, attract homeowners, attract tourists, increase a community’s “walkability,” and promote independence and creativity.

Richard Laurent Heaven Or Hell

In other words, it is the duty of anyone interested in the arts to promote artistic programming, attend cultural events, and encourage community participation. It is our responsibility to ensure that the arts are a valued commodity for future generations, if not for ourselves.


Robin Schwartz Exploring Human Animal Relationships

Schwartz Baby Lorenzo Chromogenic Print

By Shannon Gallagher, MAM

We are proud to announce a new addition to the group of artists at ZIA Gallery: Robin Schwartz, an accomplished photographer with work in international collections, including, but not limited to: The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art (New York), The Smithsonian American Museum of Art (Washington, D.C.), The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, The Chrysler Museum of Art, The Bibliotheque Nationale (France) and The Museum Folkwang (Germany). Her work seeks to explore the relationships between humans and animals. Of this journey, she says, “Animals and interspecies relationships have always been an important part of my work. Animals are my passion, and this obsession fuels my work and has guided my life. The boundary line separating people and animals has always been blurred for me.” However, these images are not intended to present the animal as either “beastly or noble,” but as a regular character in everyday human life.

Schwartz Leopard Sisters,Tribute to Rebecca

Schwartz enjoys creating images in which animals are personified and/or interacting with humans or a human environment. This ongoing project of investigating interspecies relationships has resulted in several published books, including Amelia’s World, LIKE US: Primate Portraits, and Dog Watching. Schwartz also uses her daughter, Amelia, as one of the main subjects in her photography. The images that result are drawn from actual expeditions she has taken with Amelia. These images, however, are not intended to be documentation of their journeys; instead, they are intended to illustrate the worlds they create from their imaginations during leisure time.  Schwartz’s photographs have been published in numerous major publications, including The Sunday New York Times Magazine, Interview, Juxtapoz, Esquire, and Marie Claire, among many, many others. We are excited to have her as a new artist at ZIA Gallery, and look forward to the future with her!

Schwartz Investigation Chromogenic Print