Originally from Cambridge, Ontario, Karen Bagayawa graduated with her B.F.A from Queen’s University in 1998. Her interest in traveling took her to Northern Japan to teach Kindergarten. During her five year stay, she participated in group exhibitions at The Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Sacramento Fine Arts Center, New York’s Limner Gallery and had solo exhibitions at Gallery La Vie in Morioka. In 2004, she returned to Canada and enrolled in the Advanced Textile Arts Certificate Program at Capilano College. Upon graduating, she participated in group exhibitions at Vancouver’s Jacana Contemporary Art Gallery, The Craft House - Granville Island and had her first solo exhibition in Canada at Port Moody Art Center in 2005. Karen has been working on her original cracked fabric or ‘skins’ for the past eighteen years and her work belongs in collections throughout Japan, United Kingdom, United States and Canada. In 2011, she was awarded the Eastside Culture Crawl Commission - seven paintings were created for the Gold Sponsors of the popular Eastside Culture Crawl in Vancouver. Karen currently resides in Coquitlam with her husband Stephen and their three children - Hanna, Jacob and Sienna where she is strongly influenced by her natural surroundings.
"Painting has always served as an expressive medium for me, allowing me to convey strong emotions at any moment in time, onto surface. Within painting, I am interested in colour, tactile surfaces, pattern and how paint behaves on a given surface. I have always been fascinated by tactile surfaces. Within my past works, I immersed myself in a variety of materials found from the everyday - tile grout, latex paint, powder pigments, spices, tablecloths, doily pieces, enamel paints and fabrics. I experimented with cheesecloth and tile grout to create tactile surfaces and soon discovered the 'cracked' surface. Cracking tile grout on fabric, I build a sensual surface texture. If the viewer cannot physically touch the work, they can imaginatively feel the surface. I have a sensitivity to colour, layering colour washes over and over again.
Interested in learning to weave cloth, I enrolled in the Advanced Textile Arts Program at Capilano College in 2003. I learned a variety of techniques to manipulate surface with a new medium to me - textiles. Returning to Canada from a five year stay in Japan and settling in British Columbia, I find inspiration from colour, surface and pattern within nature. The whole process of weaving and painting is a very emotional and spiritual experience for me. In manipulating the surface, I hope to engage the viewer and transfer an energy from the making itself into a tangible new form of excitement and heightened expressive sensation."