Karen Merritt is a downeast Maine-based artist and writer who focuses on the details, quiet interactions and unexpected beauty of urban environments. Her photographic work is an exploration of the details – a gesture, a juxtaposition, an unexpected framing – and the ways in which a sensation can be built from what is seen and how we reflect and are, in turn, reflected. Sometimes the most revelatory component of an image, after all, is in the shadow that passes behind us. As a photographer, Karen shoots with a medium format film camera. As a street artist, she is interested in community and messaging and the ways in which art allows us to see ourselves in each other and each other in ourselves. Karen’s work has appeared collaboratively on city walls, in galleries, as stock, in print and on-line. When she’s not making art, Karen is a writer, engineer, public health advocate and engineering instructor.
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; Hallowell, ME)
Street art / Graphic arts
- 1 in 5/1 in 2 (Intersection) (2019) – street art for community messaging and engagement regarding mental health, substance use, identity, safety and stigma.
- all y’all (2015) – Community portraits as exploration of inclusivity (paste-up).
- cityDrift (2014) – Self-Arrest – Installation made use of an open-ended alley to address stigma, addiction and recovery (collaborative paste-up w/ 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.
- 30 days/Half-life (2013) – multi-media exploration of the longevity of street art tags; creation and photographing of tags + video documenting rate at which tags weathered, were removed, or were tagged over.
- Tag[G]alle[r]y (2013) – Outreach-focused tag project – images addressed themes of gender identity/inclusivity with links to resources.
- Tag[G]alle[r]y (2012) – Outreach-focused tag project – images addressed themes of cancer treatment with links to resources.
Photo-documentary / Street photography
- [Clark x Salem] (2018) – Image series focused on 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).
- Arcana (2013 – 2016) – Images explored symbolism of the Tarot Major Arcana through street interactions/street reflections in Portland, Maine.
- the girl who (2012 – 2013) – Images and text series explored self-identity and versions of the ‘truth’ of fear and freedom.
- Havana (2012) – Images explored contemporary urban culture in Havana, Cuba.
- Portrait (2011 – 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
- Elsaesser Fellowship (2017 – 2018) – Travel/Research Fellowship focused on the history and legacy of mercury and silver mining in Latin America (project on-going).
- Pocket Full of 9Vs (2020) – poetry and prose collection