Karen Baldner | Indianapolis Artist

Karen Baldner, Indianapolis artist, makes unique, sometimes super-sized, pieces of art using handmade paper for her foundation. She has also produced some sculptural pieces.

In her work, Karen tries to express all the varied dimensions of human emotions, from pain to humor to anger or cynicism. She works from a personal penchant for combining the dark and light sides of humanity in a manner that balances both.

The second branch of Karen Baldner’s art career has taken her into the fine art of papermaking. She still uses paper she made by hand to paint on, after a developing fascination with the art of some twenty years.

She originally began studying the art of papermaking in order to refine and control the surfaces on which she created, but then a strange thing happened. Her papers took on a life and will of their own that she found inspiring. Now she lets the paper have its way and works its personality into her pieces.

Most of Karen’s works are between five and six feet wide or tall. She uses an eleven by sixteen inch screen to make pieces of handmade paper that she then patches together.

Along with using her own handmade papers to produce drawings, paintings and sculpture, Karen also uses it to producing hand printed and hand bound books as pieces of art. She also created a special technique utilizing a stencil type technique to make fascinating watermarks And she’s experimented with many styles of mixed media.

Karen Baldner is an Associate Instructor at the Herron school of Art in Indianapolis, Indiana, where she teaches foundation drawing, book arts, letterpress typesetting, papermaking and elective drawing. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Art and a Master of Fine Art degree from Indiana University at Bloomington, both in printmaking, and studied at the Akademie der Bildenden Kuenste in Munich for two years, before settling in Indiana.

Karen divides her work into photography, papermaking, artist’s books and several series. The “Privacy” series is a group of stunning drawings which came out of her earlier photographic work. The “Stations OFF the Cross” is a fascinating group of large, surrealistic renderings of the crucifixion, depicting Jesus as not only human, but male. “Buddha Taking a Break” is a group of pictures of the Buddha in various humorous poses, such as “Buddha with his Hand in the Cookie Jar.” Her intent in creating the “November 9” composite was to make a memorial for her Nazi-persecuted ancestors. It is 18 feet long and nine feet high in two flax paper panels embedded with human hair.

Since the beginning of her career in the late 1980s, Karen Baldner has accumulated numerous awards, commissions, grants and residencies, forging a place in Indianapolis art. Her pieces have been exhibited at many of the fine Indianapolis art galleries, and she is a respected member of the energetic and creative Indianapolis art community.


Karen Baldner
Eskenazi Hall
735 W New York St
Indianapolis, IN 46202

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