Shifting Coastlines
Karen Fitzgerald

“Karen Fitzgerald’s paintings transform matter into cosmic revelations.” – Michaël Amy

The piece on display, Pearlwas produced as a suite of 6 sixty-inch-diameter paintings for a collaboration with composer Charlie Griffin called Shifting Coastlines. The title of the suite as a whole suggests to the viewer that they can perceive the edges of the shell as moving and shifting—certainly this is a pertinent idea as our coastlines literally shift and change with climate change.

For 30 years, Karen Fitzgerald has been working exclusively in the tondo form. “Roundness is fundamental to my visual thinking,” she states. “The form is uniquely able to convey an essence of interconnection, wholeness and metaphysical purpose. For as long as I’ve worked on this form, I have felt that it is the right container for what I want to say. The energies within our physical world are interconnected; I am interested in the process of elucidating those interconnections through references to phenomenon in the natural world. I thin oil paint until it is in a fluid form, building up layers and producing a luminous, subtle, rich surface. The paint is added on top of a gilded surface. The gilded ground, whether copper, aluminum, 23k gold or 12k gold provides a distinctly “other-worldly” space. It evokes a universal space, including our physical plane.”

“Light suffuses our world – its energy shapes the mood of each day,” Fitzgerald continues. “I use color as pure light, physical energy, creating complex shades and tones that reconnect energies present in the everyday world with my own as well as viewers’ experiences. My work gives you a way to have a visual experience of your own energy.  Similar to looking in a mirror, when you look into one of my paintings, you respond to the color, nuance and energy that is embedded in the piece.  I use the gilded ground as a cue; just as the artists of the Renaissance used gold leaf to signify spiritual aspects, my use of gold does not hold a decorative intention. I intend that the precious metal indicates something beyond our physical world, something metaphysical.”

About the Artist
Karen Fitzgerald is a visual artist living and working in NYC. She was raised on a dairy farm in the mid-West, and it is this early and close association with the natural world that threads through her work. She is focused on the energy that suffuses our world, as well as the Universe: her work explores energy in its myriad manifestations. As a commissioned artist, she has worked with a wide range of institutions and participants, on many different projects. Widely exhibited in the United States, including at The Queens Museum of Art, Islip Art Museum, Rahr-West Museum, Madison Art Museum, Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, the University of Arizona – Tucson, and the United Nations in NY, she continues to actively exhibit her work. She has received funding from the Queens Community Arts Fund, the Greenwall Foundation and the Women’s Studio Workshop.

Fitzgerald’s work is in the Spencer Collection of the New York Public Library, Brooklyn Union Gas collection, the Rienhart Collection of Germany, NYU Langone Medical Center, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Montefiore Medical Center and many other public and private collections. She has completed several large commissions, including 28 round panels at PS 239 in Queens, and a 28’ x 56’ exterior mural for PS 193 in Whitestone, Queens. Fitzgerald has curated many exhibitions, including:  Change for Flushing Town Hall (2009); a 5 venue exhibit, Transpositions Along the Queensboro Bridge, with curator Judith Tolnick Champa, celebrating the centennial of the Queensboro bridge; In This House of Sky, at Westbeth Gallery (NYC, 2017) featuring 11 artists whose work is actively engaged with the imagination. As a guest curator at Art Times Two gallery in Princeton, NJ, she created an exhibition of 7 artists’ work, The Unity of Everything. Fitzgerald sits on the Board of Directors for Art Connects New York.

For 30 years she has been a teaching artist and continues to provide consultations for a wide range of institutions on a variety of educational issues. Since 2013, she has taught a variety of workshop series for Lifetime Arts, including workshop series for the Queens Library, and New York Public Library systems. She has taught at St. John’s University, Iona College and worked as education director for the Queens Symphony Orchestra. In 1985 she earned an MFA from Hunter College, and a M.Ed. from Teachers College, Columbia University in 1990. She lives with her husband and family in Woodside, New York; her studio is in Northern Long Island City.

More of Karen’s work can be seen at:
Inquiries should be directed to the artist at

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