Influenced by shapes and patterns found in urban landscapes and nature, my work searches beneath the surface, paring forms to its essence and revealing the structures surrounding us. I find beauty in the elemental and unadorned, the slightly brutal forms often hidden in plain sight. Using repetition as a powerful building block, I explore structure through modularity, space, surface and texture. The forms can be monolithic or composed of hundreds of elements. I’m driven by the challenge to create quiet simplicity from the many and discovering an almost meditative beauty in the textures formed. Using clay as my primary medium, I hand build all forms often maintaining the unglazed natural clay body to focus on the rhythmic gestures and elemental structures I’m seeking.
Everyday experience and memories are the tiny slivers of life built one atop the other. Sometimes they mold comfortably together, other times the jagged-edged moments will poke and tear at their neighbors. My current work explores the sometimes tenuous structures of identity and our attempt to hold all the disparate pieces together. Those structures can be overbearing or so fragile to be on the verge of collapse. What binds those elements of self is a source of inspiration and exploration.
Karyn Gabriel is a sculptural ceramic artist living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area.
She studied architecture, graphic design and art, receiving a BFA in Interior Architecture from the University of Michigan. During a twenty-five-year career in architectural design, Gabriel’s award-winning projects have been recognized in numerous publications including, Architectural Record, Interior Design, Contract Design and Print magazine.
After years of creating designs on paper, Gabriel’s yearning to fully realize ideas using her hands propelled her back to the studio. Awarded a full-merit scholarship to study at Oregon College of Art and Craft, Gabriel received a post-baccalaureate degree in sculptural ceramics. She continued her art studies as an curatorial intern at Portland’s Museum of Contemporary Craft under director Namita Gupta Wiggers.
Gabriel mines her background in architectural design creating work which explores a raw beauty in pared down form and a love of the imperfect. Her work is subtle yet filled with detail, beckoning the viewer to pause in the quietness and pay close attention.
While primarily working with clay, Gabriel also pushes the boundaries of materiality in her work. She explores integrating diverse materials such as metal, leather and thread as structural components creating tension and contrast with the weightiness of the clay. Since 2018, Gabriel has been a full-time studio artist exhibiting in California, Oregon and Washington.