Some of this is life that feels like work and a lot of this is work that feels like life and I’m never really sure which of it is ever even in balance anyway. Sometimes I think time was invented so we don’t explode from it all happening at once.
Karen Alice Merritt (she|her|hers) is a downeast Maine-based writer, community health advocate, engineer and engineering instructor. Her creative works are explorations of the details – gestures, juxtapositions, unexpected framings – and considerations of how remembrance is built from how we reflect and are, in turn, reflected. Sometimes the most revelatory components of a memory or an image are in the shadows that pass behind us. Karen’s work has appeared on city walls, in galleries, as stock, in print and on-line. | and thinkpunkgirl? We must become undisciplined, writes Christina Sharpe. This is the DIY | This is where we work it out and build it from.
(gelatin silver print with stencil | ink 2011; digital composition | collage 2019)
Opportunities | Projects Awarded
- 2021-2022 – University of Maine Diversity Leadership Institute Cohort
- 2018 Rebel Blend Fund Grant – Intersection (1 in 5 | 1 in 2)
- 2017-2018 Armin E. Elsaesser Fellowship – The Mines
- 2017 CSA(II) – Art | Farm Collaboration (Harlow Gallery)
Street art | Graphic arts
- 1 in 5 | 1 in 2 (Intersection) (2019 – ongoing) – street art for community engagement around public health, identity, substance use, resource access, safety & stigma.
- all y’all (2015) – Community portraits as exploration of inclusivity (paste-up).
- cityDrift (2014) – Self-Arrest – Installation used open-ended alley to address stigma, addiction and recovery (collaborative paste-up with resource links).
- Art Truck (2013) – visual | interactive 1-night show of street portraits in a non-gallery space. Visitors invited to take images from the show throughout the evening.
- Tag[G]alle[r]y (2013) – Outreach-focused street tag project – images addressed gender identity | inclusivity with links to resources [with Elective Arts Collaborative]
- 30 days | Half-life (2012 – 2013) – multi-media exploration of street art tags; creation and photographing of tags + video of tag weathering | removal | tagging over.
- Tag[G]alle[r]y (2012) – Outreach-focused street tag project – images addressed cancer treatment | ‘survivor’ narrative with links to resources.
Photo-documentary | Street photography
- BeSpoke (2019) – stock images for The Art of the Bicycle
- [Clark × Salem] (2018) – Image series – urban gardens
- CSA II (2017) – Art | Farm collaboration – art inspired by life, work, and the land on Maine farms (collaboration through Harlow Gallery, Hallowell, ME).
- StreetGods (2014 – 2017) – Wings, stars and light – that unexpected holy.
- Arcana (2013 – 2016) – Images explored symbolism of the Tarot Major Arcana through street interactions & reflections in Portland, Maine.
- Quiet Ones (2013 – 2014) – Window-shop wigs; evolving Portland and the source – both in the locale and the market.
- the girl who (2012 – 2013) – Images and text series explored self-identity and versions of the ‘truth’ of fear and freedom [with Elective Arts Collaborative]
- Havana (2012) – Images explored contemporary urban culture in Havana, Cuba.
- Portrait (2010 – 2013) – Go for a walk, share a conversation, take a picture or don’t; unlearn time, relearn wandering. Trust that leaving an office was the right thing to do.
Writing | Creative or Research
- Gainesville | RootStock (2020 – ongoing) – making sense of the where and when
- Pocket Full of 9Vs | Spirit Level (2017 – 2019) – technical | creative collaborative
- Elsaesser Fellowship (2017 – 2018) – history and legacy of mercury and silver mining in Latin America (public health project ongoing).