Karen Steen started her professional art career as an editorial illustrator.  She made scores of tiny paintings, published in magazines and books, that provided visual information about scientific subjects related to health, well-being and medicine.  In response to the constraints of commercial illustration, Karen entered into a phase of exploration during which she studied various printmaking techniques, and unconventional uses of materials. The quest to refine her personal expression, led her to pursue an MFA degree, which she completed in 2007 at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. She also has Bachelors degrees in Illustration, earned in 1988 at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, and in Business, earned in 1978 at Colorado College in Colorado Springs. Karen relishes the challenge of combining the technical and conceptual skills she developed as an illustrator with the intuitive approach of a fine artist.  

Artistic influences include Lee Bountecou, for her singular vision and masterful use of materials, Elizabeth Murray for blurring the line between picture and object, and for making work that is both serious and playful, and Aurora Robson, for her inventive hanging sculptures, inspired by organic forms and made from cast-off plastic bottles.  

Steen has won numerous awards and has exhibited in Southern California, Philadelphia, New York City, and various locations in the mid-Atlantic region. She was an award winner in the prestigious exhibition, Art of the State: Pennsylvania 2010, at the State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg, and won the Betsy Meyer Memorial Award for Experimental Art in 2009.

Karen is a southern California native, although she recently moved to Kansas City after spending 8 years in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Her new Kansas City studio is located in the Livestock Exchange Building.

While living on the east coast, Karen trained to be a hospital artist in residence at The Creative Center, in New York City and worked at St. Luke's Hospital in Bethlehem and Allentown, Pennsylvania.  She assisted cancer patients and their families with creative projects to encourage healing and well-being.  Karen was also a drawing instructor at Penn State Lehigh Valley.

Solo Exhibitions

 2015  Karen Steen in the KCAC Underground Gallery

2015   Kansas City Artists Coalition, Kansas City, MO

 2013“Assembled”, Connexions Gallery, Easton, PA

 2012“Play”, Highwire Gallery, Philadelphia, PA 

 2012  "Nature's Dance", Eagle’s Nest Gallery, Nazareth, PA 

 2011“Nature’s Dance”, Speer Gallery, at The Shipley School, Bryn Mawr, PA 

 2009“Fragile Systems: Mixed Media Works on Paper”, SoPas Gallery, South Pasadena, California


Selected Group Exhibitions

2015    HEAT: A Juried Exhibition - Best in Show Award

           Leedy-Voulkos Art Center, Kansas City, MO

           Jurors: Burton Dunbar, Ph.D., Jan Schall, Ph.D., Patricia B. Glenn and Michael J. Pronko, MD

2015    Art Source and Design Gallery and Framing - featured artist

           Overland Park, KS

           Juror: Marissa Flynn2013    Art of the State: Pennsylvania 2013

           The State Museum of Pennsylvania

           Harrisburg, PA

2013   "Absolutely Abstract", Lehigh Art Alliance

           City Hall Rotunda Gallery, Bethlehem, PA

           Juror: Ann Lalik - awarded Honorable Mention

2012 “Harmony and Contrast, Perspectives of the East and West”

           Highwire Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

2012   "Friends of Nursing Celebration"

           ArtsQuest Center at Steel Stacks

           Bethlehem, PA

2011   "Looking for Order" (two-person show)

           Highwire Gallery

           Philadelphia, PA

2011   “112th Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Fellowship Exhibition”

           Artists House Gallery

           Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

           Juror: Nina Martino 

2011    “Lehigh Art Alliance Featured Artists Exhibition”

           The Gallery at Penn State Lehigh Valley, Center Valley, PA

           Juror: Ann Lalik

2011   "Language of Line, Geometry, Pattern and Shape"

           PAFA Alumni Gallery at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

           Philadelphia, PA

           Jurors: Ken Kewley and Peter Van Dyck

2011    Silver Anniversary International Juried Show

           Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, Summit NJ

           Juror: Joan Young, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

2010    two-person show at The Gallery at the JCC

           Jewish Community Center

           Allentown, PA

2010   "Exploring Invisible," Highwire Gallery

           Philadelphia, PA

2010    Art of the State: Pennsylvania 2010 - 3rd Place for Works on Paper

           The State Museum of Pennsylvania

           Harrisburg, PA

           Juror: Leo Mazow

2010   "Drawn From Nature", 6th Annual Juried Exhibition - 1st Place for Works on Paper

           John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove

           Audubon, PA

           Jurors: Ernest Norcia and Aaron Goldblatt

2010    Lehigh Art Alliance - UGI Utilities Award

           Baker Center for the Arts at Muhlenberg College

           Allentown, PA

           Jurors: Eleanor Schimmel and Peter Van Dyck

2009    6th Annual Betsy Meyer Memorial Exhibition - $1,000 Betsy Meyer Memorial Award winner

           Main Line Art Center

           Haverford, PA

           Juror: Julien Robson, Curator Contemporary Art, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

2009    International Society of Experimental Artists Annual Show - 2nd Place

           Binney and Smith Gallery

           Bethlehem, PA

           Juror: Carol Pickle

2009    96th Annual Exhibition Allied Artists of America, Inc.

           The National Arts Club

           New York, NY

           Jurors: Gary T. Erbe, Evelyn Floret, Claudia Seymour, Tom Valenti       

2009    Lehigh Art Alliance 74th Annual Spring Juried Exhibition -  Air Products Foundation Award and                                      Binney and Smith Gallery, Bethlehem, PA -   awarded Honorable Mention

             Jurors: Rosalind Bloom and George N. Nista

2008    Absolutely Abstract

           The Philadelphia Sketch Club, Philadelphia, PA -  awarded Honorable Mention

           Jurors: Cameron McMillan and Hitoshi Nakazato

2008   Juried Alumni Exhibition
           Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Gallery 128
           Philadelphia, PA
           Juror: David R. Brigham, Ph D
2008    Lehigh Art Alliance 73rd Annual Spring Juried Exhibition - awarded Honorable Mention                   
           City Hall Rotunda Gallery, Bethlehem, PA
           Jurors: Alan Goldstein and Leslie Kaufman
2007    Lehigh Art Alliance 72nd Annual Fall Juried Exhibition  - awarded Honorable Mention                     
           Siegel Gallery, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA                         
           Jurors: Laura Frazure and Tim Gaydos