Karen Laub-Novak
Sculptor, painter, print-maker, Karen Laub-Novak constantly searches the traditions of the old masters, yet her work is new and personal. Executives, poets, professors, and a number of college presidents own her paintings, and her work is represented in many permanent collections.

Laub-Novak has had one-person exhibits at galleries and universities throughout the United States, including the William Sawyer Gallery, San Francisco; Los Robles Gallery, Palo Alto, California; Botolph and Impressions galleries, Boston; Des Moines Art Museum, Iowa; Rochester Museum, Minnesota; the Rockefeller Foundation, New York; Stanford; Harvard; Yale; Duke, and others.

Her paintings and prints are owned by scores of private citizens. Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick exhibited several at the residence for the U.S. United Mission in New York as part of an exhibit of new American painting. Other paintings were included in a similar exhibit sponsored by the Art in Embassy program in Iceland, and in 2003 in St. Petersburg as a part of "Hope in our City."

Laub-Novak executed, on commission for a public park, a twelve-foot bronze sculpture of Nobel Peace Prize winner, Norman E. Borlaug. Her most recent commission is a bronze head of Alexander Hamilton. Castings of this Hamilton bust are in public and private collections.

Other commissions include a bronze statuette awarded in honor of Dr. Borlaug for scientific achievement in bio-technology; a bronze liturgical crucifix for a Grand Rapids, Michigan church, also presented to Pope John Paul II; a bronze medallion for the Becket Fund; and glass or bronze awards for other organizations. She has done portraits (drawings and oils) on commission, including an official portrait of the director of OMB for the old Executive Office Building.

Group shows include American Associated Artists, NYC; American Federation of Arts Traveling Print show; Art in Embassy Exhibits. In February 1999 her work was included in the Black History Month art exhibit "Hope in Our City" at Union Station, Washington, D.C. Foxhall Gallery in Washington, D.C. exhibits her paintings and prints.

Previous exhibits have included work inspired by poets including T.S. Eliot, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Dante, and the author of the "Apocalypse." Laub-Novak is also working on a series of paintings and prints based on Rainer Maria Rilke's "Duino Elegies." She has been printing these lithographs at the Curwen Studios in England.

Laub-Novak's work is represented in public and private collections including Continental Bank of Chicago, Yale University, Stonehill College, St. Vincent's Archabbey in Pennsylvania, and the estate of Cardinal Spellman. Laub-Novak has given lectures and workshops at colleges, universities and institutes including Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Carleton, the Aspen Institute, and the Salzburg Seminar. She was keynote speaker for Wisconsin Women in the Arts, and the Earl Lecturer at the Pacific School of Religion.

The artist's illustrations have appeared in magazines (including Washington Monthly, The New Republic, Crisis and Motive), books, newspapers, and filmstrips. She has illustrated children's books, published 40 drawings in A Book of Elements, and designed many book covers. Nine color reproductions of her work appeared in the December 1966 issue of Motive Magazine. An etching, The Secular Saint, was reproduced on the cover of the May 1968 issue of The Center Magazine (From the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions).

Laub-Novak has editioned several series of lithographs on famous texts: seventeen on The Apocalypse; six on T.S. Eliot's "Ash Wednesday"; six on The Book of Genesis; and to date, eight lithographs on Rainier Marie Rilke's "Duino Elegies." Her essays and reviews have appeared in educational, theological and general interest magazines. Her essay, "The Art of Deception," was written for the book Art Creativity and the Sacred. She was also a guest editor for Momentum Magazine, which published her essay "The Habits of Art."

While earning a BA from Carleton College and MFA in painting and printmaking from the State University of Iowa, she studied painting with Oskar Kokoschka in Salzburg, Austria, printmaking with Mauricio Lasansky, and poetry writing at the Iowa writers' workshop.

Laub-Novak has taught art and humanities at Carleton, Stanford, Syracuse, Georgetown, Mount Vernon College in Washington, D.C., University of California-Riverside, Impressions Studio in Boston, and CIDOC in Cuernavaca, Mexico.
Laub-Novak is married and the mother of three children. She is a Kent-Danforth fellow and has been listed in Outstanding Young Women of America and Who's Who in Art.

As a teacher and lecturer, Laub-Novak enjoys helping others gain understanding and pleasure through the skillful use of their eyes, minds, and emotions. She places great emphasis on classical disciplines as guides to insight and self-expression. Conscious of the many painful steps in the growth of her own work, she is unusually articulate about art and how to understand it.

Her Work
"My primary concern is to express certain human emotions: Our attempt to find ourselves. Our struggles with hope and despair. Our moments of love and separation, sexuality, isolation, suffering, death. I am constantly excited and frustrated by tensions between verbal and non-verbal, mind and emotions, intellect and body, silence and communication, privacy and community. This is what I and my paintings are all about."
-- K. Laub-Novak

Laub-Novak is known both for her powerful figurative paintings and for etchings and lithographs based on literary themes: T.S. Eliot, Napier, Kafka, The Apocalypse, Rilke. Her work combines modern and traditional techniques. Her early figurative work was characterized by greys, blues, earthcolors, and white. Her colors are now high key: red, gold, blue, orange and green. Subtlety has given way to starkness and intensity. Her training in sculpture and facility in drawing are obvious in the muscle structure and foreshortening of her huge figures. Line and color heighten the tension of the figures. The intense colors evoke dream and emotion. Her paintings are large; a kind of personal fantasy.

Her Lectures
Understanding Contemporary Art
"I often work with literary themes: T.S. Eliot, the Apocalypse, Kafka. Such starting points sometimes give me relief from the overwhelming demands of self expression, the 'creating out of nothing' that faces me from an empty canvas. Reading opens my imagination in those dry times when my horizons are too confined by the range of my immediate experience and emotions. In literature I can call upon a whole range of ideas, symbols, emotions which I feel and recognize and which can lead to further insights into my own experience."
--K. Laub-Novak

With poetry and slides, with humor and seriousness, Karen Laub-Novak illustrates the development of paintings and prints from start to completion. She describes the growth of the artist, speaking candidly of the problems of imagination, inspiration, technique and discipline. Both artists and viewers must learn to see and train their memory.

Reflections on Art and Mystical Discipline East and West
She traces the stages of artistic creativity using slides of her artwork. She illustrates how, up to a point, there are remarkable similarities of mystical understanding and creative understanding in the Christian and Zen mystics.

"I'm not an Eternal Feminine type, a suffragette, or a warrior of the Woman's Liberation Front. The two questions for me are: what makes a creative person, and how can all people share in the creative process." --K. Laub-Novak

Laub-Novak describes changes in the present day life style of women; their new freedoms and responsibilities; the influences of early childhood training; the types of repression and suppression women have accepted. She stresses seeking new ideas for solutions to the "women problem" and the "man-woman problem" and for the liberating of creative potential. She analyzes the terms discipline, freedom, self-sacrifice, obedience, docility, intuition, womanliness, and family life.

"I was told once that I couldn't be a professional painter and married too. I was told the demands of each were mutually exclusive. In many ways I have found these two complex vocations to be mutually beneficial."
--K. Laub-Novak

Laub-Novak describes the changing relationship between men and women; approaches to self-understanding, decision-making, sexuality, communication and silence; the complexities of courtship, marriage, and parenthood; the question of combining career and motherhood.

How An Artist Works
Karen Laub-Novak presents How An Artist Works, using slides of her own paintings and prints to compare their early stages with later ones. She explains the techniques and decisions involved in their development, the various stages of their genesis, and the sources that inspired them.

For more information about Karen, to purchase her artwork or to commision her for a project click here.

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