Karen E. Goulet is a multi-media artist who favors working with textile arts. She is a band member of the White Earth Ojibwe Nation and is also from Metis and Sami/Finn people. She received her MFA in sculpture from UW–Madison and an MEd from UM Duluth. She writes poetry, teaches and is the program director for the Miikanan Gallery at the Watermark Art Center in Bemidji, Minnesota. Karen has maintained a professional creative career for 25 years. With solo and group exhibitions that include national and international travel exhibits, her work addresses identity, culture, social, and environmental concerns. Most recently Karen was selected to be the first Artist in Residence for Big River Continuum Project, a collaboration between University of Minnesota’s Itasca Field Station, and Tulane University’s Studio in the Woods. It is a collaboration between artist and scientists whose work has ties to the Mississippi River.
My love of needle and thread has been lifelong. Watching my mother’s magic making everything we wore to witnessing my father’s beautiful embroidery and darning skills I realized early the significance of being able to work with one’s hands. As a mixed media artist, I have endlessly explored materials and techniques but always find myself returning to the needle and thread. Thread is the metaphor that ties the facets of my life together. I play with possibility and the utilitarian often dangling precariously into the unknown. Beautifully tangled and frayed, strong and subtle -without the thread I would have nothing to show for my life. I paint with thread and fabric. Embellish with anything I please. I am always trying to liberate a story from the constraints of rules about how you are supposed to do things when sewing. I bring texture through stitches, layering and unexpected combinations. Maybe it is a therapy of sorts as I was never meticulous with straight lines and evenness of my stitch. It took years to understand we all have a place in the world and if we are creative people, we may actually influence the design and perimeters of where that precision and voice are found. I come from people who are makers of beauty and possibility. Our worldview has been influenced by culture, historical trauma, and a fierce will to survive, along with an ephemeral love for the world we are in.Rivers and lakes form the stories I make as they remember the ones who came before me. The horizon lines of the Ojibwe homelands are everything to me. Wherever I go, I find myself looking for the water and a beautiful horizon line. Home is in the heartland and on the road. So far, the good fortune of making art and finding friends along the way, has been a meaningful destiny.
The Beauty of the Blues