"Karen Karnes was born in 1925 in New York City, United States, where she attended art schools for children. Her parents were Russian and Polish immigrants, who were garment workers and were proud communists. Karen was influenced in many ways by her parents' philosophies, as she always has respected working in small communities. Karen applied and was accepted to the La Guardia High School.
Karnes today makes more contemporary vessels, which are given different attention to design than her original pottery. She still today makes many traditional forms. Today Karen primarily fills her kilns with more contemporary forms, but she continues to produce casseroles, teapots, cups and bowls.
When Karen was in her mid-twenties, she and David decided to move down to North Carolina to attend/work at the Black Mountain College. One of her friends at the Black Mountain College was Merce Cunningham, for she lived with his partner John Cage. These two were impressed with Zen Buddhist thought, and were intrigued by what chance had to do with an outcome. They expressed this in their compositions and choreography, in music and dance. “Nichi, nichi kore ko kore.” Every day is a good Day, a Zen Buddhist saying, was one they as a group enjoyed reminding each other of.
The time in the Carolinas was when Karen Karnes became what she wanted to be, a country potter. She was introduced to potters such as Bernard Leach, Shoji Hamada, and local Americans Malcom Davis and Mark Shapiro. Karen decided to live the rest of her life on a farm, working with clay and using old firing practices such as wood and salt firing. She had a disastrous experience a few years ago when her house and studio burned to the ground because of a kiln fire. Karen received many generous donations from a large pottery sale, to help her re-build her country house and studio.
Karen received a Graduate Fellowship from Alfred University, and more recently won a gold medal for the consummate craftsmanship from The American Craft Council. Her work is displayed in numerous galleries and permanent collections worldwide." This biography appeared on Wikipedia.com
A Chosen Path The Ceramic Art of Karen Karnes reveals with great sensitivity the progression of Karnes career. Edited by Mark Shapiro, there are well-chosen photographs of her pottery vessels to include close ups of elements unique to this artist such as one of her cut lids.