Exhibitions Share Tweet


Karen Donnellan , Eñso; cast glass (pâte de verre), diameter 40” x 5”; Courtesy of the Artist

Essentia: Karen Donnellan

Supported by the Langley Kenzie Award

On View Friday, August 10, 2012–Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sylvia L. Rosen Gallery for Fine Art in Craft Media  

Karen Donnellan, recipient of the 2012 Langley Kenzie Award, creates work that is about process and material. Working primarily in glass, her creative method results in an object that is both true to a physical material origin but also suggests a potential for something naturally generated. Donnellan is a native of Ireland and MFA candidate at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Her work was on view in Art in Craft Media 2011.


Craft has been defined, refined and re-defined in western culture ad nauseam. It is frequently a laundry list approach that combines possible materials: wood, metal, ceramic, fiber and glass married to a false understanding of a needed functionality. But, artists have disrupted the tradition. Statements on craft that began as a list of ingredients all fail to appreciate the intention of an artist to convey meaning and their involvement with the manufacturing of an object. This transcends the physical make-up of things allowing the new material list defining craft to be endless. The final collapse of the traditional approach to understanding is exciting.

Karen Donnellan’s artwork is a signal to an entirely new approach to defining art, not just craft or fine art. It is more the relationship between a person’s practice in any medium and their direct physical connection to the object that results. Creating work that is about process and material consideration results in an object that is both true to a physical material origin and suggests something naturally occurring. Donnellan breaks through the physical with her work desiring to reach the meta-physical.

Utilizing the manipulation of one shape, the circle, she instills in her work energy for healing. This is not to be confused with proscription for religious beliefs. In actuality, statements like this are absent from the presentation of her work. It is not even my place to grant the work a powerful mysticism, but rather place it in its origin.

Donnellan’s work by definition is directed toward a result with an immeasurable goal and this is good. Knowing that what is put into the work is as important as the end result frees her to consider the act of making and the hope for the work to have an impact on it’s audience. This holistic understanding is core to what we consider the base definition of craft and why Donnellan exemplifies the field. .

Selected from the Art in Craft Media 2011 exhibition and supported by The Langley Kenzie Award, Essentia, explores Donnellan’s process and its results.

Scott Propeack
Associate Director, Exhibitions and Collections