Karen Antonelli is an artist and educator living in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. Born in England, she came to the US in 1994, originally to undertake a 6-month Residency at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Omaha Nebraska. As a foreign national and an immigrant, Antonelli is concerned with ideas of memory, place, and displacement; of wilderness and our constructed environment, and our uneasy interactions with what we call “nature”. The way that she makes her artwork is as much about process and the way that it shapes the expression as it is about the ideas themselves; She is equally maker and conceptualist.
Her photographic artwork is concerned with the tropes of landscape, looking for “place” and “view”. She shoots on color negative with a 4x5 press camera, processes the film herself and scans at high resolution to make large archival digital prints on fine art paper. The process of finding the place, looking for the composition, setting up the camera, and composing has the effect of quieting her mind so that she can become absorbed in the landscape. Later, when Antonelli edits the scans, it is in the act of re-examination that she often finds things she overlooked that contribute to feeling of the place and complete the image.
In her series Long Division the images are derived from sequences of square medium format black-and-white negatives, scanned, composited, printed on heavyweight archival fine art photo paper, and then altered with charcoal, graphite, and metallic crayon. She shot each sequence with the intention of making every frame a complete and individual composition. In compositing each sequence makes a continuous, resolved scene but not a document that accurately maps the real place. One has to photograph a specific place at a particular time; however, these images are intended as texts, tropes of landscape that reflect both the increasing destabilization of the public and political sphere and her own existential anxiety as an immigrant with a foot in two countries and long-term security in neither. Antonelli's references for this artwork come from Moholy Nagy’s photomontage, Structure of the World; Henry Swift’s Mathematical Figures, and El Lissitzky’s Wolkenbugel. She was once challenged to “intervene” in the landscapes she was photographing and in this artwork she feels she accomplishes that.
Antonelli's artwork encompasses drawing, photography, video, and installation. She has exhibited at Arnolfini Gallery and Bristol City Museum in the UK, and SilverEye, Pittsburgh Filmmakers, and Pittsburgh Center for the Arts in Pittsburgh. Three of her large scale drawings are in the permanent collection on exhibition at the David Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh. Her photography is in private collections in both the UK and the US. Antonelli has a Bachelors degree in 3-Dimensional Design from Cardiff College of Art in the UK, and an MFA from Vermont College, Vermont. She teaches photography and is an Adjunct Associate Professor at Pittsburgh Filmmakers, where she is also a long-time artist-member.