Gray Contemporary Presents Karen Navarro: Belonging in Modern Times

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Greetings friends and fellow artists alike! Over the weekend I had the opportunity to check out a new installation by artist Karen Navarro. Karen has been producing art for a while now and over the past few years has really made a break in the art world. I went to her opening Saturday to see what kind of goodies she had cooked up and was not disappointed. Her latest showcase entitled “Belonging in Modern Times” Was an interesting look at what the photographic artist can do with materials, and not computers. When I look at her work I feel like she has an urge to create dynamic hand-made visual compositions that almost mimic photoshop or computer editing. Her use of color is also something that has remained consistent in her current bodies of work bringing a light fun feel to a somewhat edgy and or thought provoking image. I would definitely recommend stopping by Grey Contemporary to see this installation. Here’s a little more about the show and Karen.

EL PERTENECER EN TIEMPOS MODERNOS (Belonging in Modern Times) explores the online self-representation used as a venue to create a sense of belongingness. Humans are innately driven to attain a sense of belonging. Just like water or shelter the sense of belonging is a human need. In modern times, as this phenomenon has transcended from the physical to the digital, social media platforms function as sites to congregate and connect. Every day, an average of 93 million selfies are being taken all over the world with many of them being posted online. In El Pertenecer en Tiempos Modernos (Belonging in Modern Times) (2019), I use Instagram to explore the ways in which people use social media as a platform to project an assimilated version of themselves. Inspired by cubism and the representation of the subject through the investigation of materiality and collages, I have reassembled the portraits depicting a distorted image that speaks about the con- structed identities we perform on social media. The individuals photographed were selected by an open call on Instagram and were asked to wear a specific color clothing. The use of a specific color and the way they are all posed, are a way to equalize the individuals in each group. Using technolo- gies of today such as 3-D printing and laser cutting was essential in my process of addressing contemporary media. The photographs were embossed with the top hundred hashtags on Insta- gram. Digital culture has changed and continues to change the ways we behave, relate and connect to each other. The tridimensional collages suggest multiple layers of meaning and aim to discuss the challenges of being authentic and real in a time of obsession over portraying an online illusion of ourselves.

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With a background in fashion design, Argentina-born artist, Karen Navarro, works with a highly stylized aesthetic on a diverse array of mediums that includes photography, collage, and sculpture. Her constructed portraits, as she describes it herself, are known for the use of color theory, surreal scenes and minimalist details. Navarro’s work expresses self-referential questions that connect in a much larger scale to ideas of construction of identity, societal expectations and the understanding of the being; prompting a discourse about the subconscious will to comply with the contemporary societies’ canons when these are in fact misleading. Similarly, Navarro explores in her work feminin- ity as a cultural construct. Navarro lives in Houston since 2014 where she completed the certificate program in photography at Houston Center for Photography. In 2018. Navarro has been awarded a scholarship at Glassell School of Art| The Museum of Fine Art Houston where she studied analog photography. Most recently she has received the Artadia fellowship 2019. Navarro’s work has been exhibited in the US and abroad. Her most recent shows include Elisabet Ney Museum Austin, TX (2019), Presa House Gallery, San Antonio, TX (2019), Melkweg, Amster- dam, The Netherlands (2019), Museo de la Reconquista, Tigre, Argentina (2018), The Union, Hous- ton, TX (2018), and Houston Center for Photography, Houston, TX (2018).

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PR Courtesy of Grey Contemporary Gallery.