Sparks fly with Delaney’s welded steel sculptures
By Lele Galer, Columnist, The Times
This week’s local art watch celebrates the unique steel works of noted local sculptor Karen Delaney. For the past twenty years, Karen has been creating magnificent steel sculptures from here to Prague, and has also continued to teach and volunteer in the arts as well. She is “inspired by architecture and forms in nature,” but finds “the most information needed to create the next sculpture within the sculpture that she is working on presently. She sees her work as a “progression” from one piece to the next, where one work stimulates the development of a newer work.
With an art degree from Radford University on Virginia, and a museum studies certificate from Harvard, Karen taught 3-D design and art history in Boston, Prague and at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh. She has also headed Art in Action at Pocopson Elementary School locally, and heads the wonderful annual Radley Run Country Club Art Show. And, I am very thrilled to write that last week Karen was chosen to be the new Executive Director of the Chester County Art Association in West Chester. Her energy, talent and vision will be an enormous asset to this terrific local arts center. This week she will show at the Galer Estate Winery’s Thursday Pop-Up Artist show from 5-9pm, and next week she will exhibit at the Unionville Art Gala located at Unionville High School in Kennett Square.
Karen says that “the structures I create are a result of my fascination with space, form, texture and color”. Karen’s works in 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch thick steel sheets and rods which she cuts and welds into shapes and architectural structures that can be ten inches to fifteen feet in height. Found steel objects are often incorporated into her pieces for their shape and textural qualities. She says that she “likes working with steel because of its strength and color and the immediacy of the welding technique.”
Occasionally Karen will also incorporate a non-steel object, like a ball of spun wool, a wooden egg or another rounded, sometimes painted object that is placed within her steel structure. In her cornucopia-shaped steel sculpture on the left, multicolored painted balls seem to be suspended within an airy cone atmosphere. The piece is supported by a strong steel base that has an atmospheric patina where shapes float on the surface, just as the balls appear to float within the structural form. It is whimsical, but also very clean and precise. Karen methodically plans out her pieces, first in sketches, then often with paper cutouts. With an unerring sense of composition and balance, she takes her time to work through a piece, and this care and attention really shows in the end result.
In her “A” shaped table piece, Karen experiments with copper foiling in the interior of the piece, as well as painterly applications of flat Japanese blue paint and a small specked ball at the base. The blue bring attention to the edges of the form and the copper accentuates the interior space and plays with reflected light. The strong static form that she has created becomes suddenly interactive. A ball seems to roll right through the shapes arch, light plays on the copper and the blue “rusts” through the steel. Is it an “A”, an arch, a tunnel? It is its own thing, and she is having fun with it.
Karen is very serious with her art, but there is always a spark of “let’s have some fun with this” in everything she does.
Her steel piece with the red ball alludes to the shape of a giant magnet, but is so much more. Every side of the shape is worked with cuts, or added textural elements, color, or burnishing. Karen attacks and analyzes every piece at every angle, and the result is a stunning new form. You can recognize a “Karen Delaney” work immediately – and very few artists today have that strength of style and clarity of vision.
To see more of Karen’s work please visit her new website www.karendelaneystudio.com. Recently she was given the great honor of a commission to create the entry relief sculpture to the new Henry Gallery on the Penn State Great Valley Campus. It is an amazing work of art and couldn’t be better placed to represent such a cool creative space.
Please come meet Karen and see her latest work at Galer Estate Winery this Thursday on Halloween from 5-9pm!
Local Art Watch highights one local artist every week. Lele Galer is an artist who has chaired numerous art shows, taught art history and studio art, public art and has chaired, written and taught the Art in Action Art Appreciation series for the UCFD schools for the past 12 years. She worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and wrote for the Asociated Press in Rome. She has been dedicated to Art History and art education for most of her adult life. Lele and her husband Brad own Galer Estate Winery in Kennett Square and she is President of the Education Foundation and co-Chairs the CCAA’s New Building Campaign.