A Catalyst of Meaning: The Art of Karrie Ross

See also: “Synergy of Expression: A Conversation with Karrie Ross.”


“Energy Impact Crater: Chaotic Burst,” 2014, 30”x22”, Oil, watercolor, ink, collage, acrylic on arches

A catalogue essay to accompany the exhibition at LA Artcore Gallery at the Union Center for the Arts (August 25 – 31, 2014), Los Angeles, California, by Jill Thayer, Ph.D.

     For centuries, artists have explored the conceptual boundaries of art and science, such as Da Vinci, whose empirical methodologies revealed the creative discoveries of imagination and curiosity. Those mechanisms of gestalt inspired many in the notions of visual perception and, the reality of being. The psychological phenomena that occurred throughout the process would open the door for wonderers to come. Karrie Ross is an artist who sees the realms of existence through a multi-faceted lens: energy, science, participation, conversations, and being seen are influencing constructs of her work. She notes that, “metaphorical representations create a ‘safe’ place for the viewer to experience a flow and connection from their interaction with the art, discovering that they are part of a bigger whole.” This intent engages a reflexivity between viewer and artist, as Ross defines her process of discovery as one that is intertwined with learning about matter itself, such as the molecular vibrations of an atom that require energy in transitions––and that everything has a frequency, which the universe reciprocates. She adds, “I paint with abandon, and my belief system is that we’re all connected through the vibrational energy of the earth that is natural.”

Change is a catalyst in her work. Ross acknowledges that it can be a simple “Aha” moment and cites that change is in the magic created within the mystery of living life––a paradigm shift.

“I change moment-by-moment. My life is an illusion that I create. My ‘what is’ is right now. I don’t paint based on what’s happening in the world. I paint what is happening within me in reaction to what’s happening in the world. A context is formed from what my subconscious needs me to expose so the art changes a perspective into a response. I have no idea what that is until the art is finished. Balanced. I start with a symbol or figure but all the rest just happens when one is put next to another over and over again.”

Watercolor is the primary media that Ross uses. The painting begins on a dry palette with infusions of pen and ink, oil and acrylic, and sometimes torn paper. Her doodles are reminiscent of Cy Twombly’s organic scribbles set in a field of lyrical abstraction. Spirals, a tonality of blended color, and metallic bejeweling embellish a framework that is grounded in graphic design and color theory. Stylized figures appear whimsical yet allegorical in a resplendent cavalcade to ignite the viewer’s attention.

The juxtaposition of semiotic imagery and magical realism creates a mise-en-scène that is metaphoric of Brecht’s theatrical alienation, in which the audience is distanced from emotional involvement by a simulated performance. Figurative and graphic illustrations are cast as playful characters that dance across each piece with quizzical abandon. These incarnations seem to veil an angst that serves as a touchstone and catharsis for Ross, perhaps for life’s complexities. Yet ultimately, these sub-layers of existence reveal her luminous characters in a joyful expression of synergistic continuum.


Karrie Ross: Installation view at LA Artcore Gallery at the Union Center for the Arts, Los Angeles, (August 25 – 31, 2014)

Karrie Ross_Surreal_Touching

“Surreal: Touching,” 2013, 30”x22”, Oil, watercolor, ink, acrylic, on arches

Karrie Ross_I am the Egg! Man #3

“I am the Egg! Man #3,” 2013, 30”x22” Oil, watercolor, ink, acrylic on arches


“Energy Impact Crater: Chaotic Burst,” 2014, 30”x22”, Oil, watercolor, ink, collage, acrylic on arches


“Surreal: As the Cloud Weeps: Bejeweled Bird,” 2013, 30”x22”, Oil, watercolor, ink, acrylic, on arches


“I am the Egg! Lady #2,” 20134, 30”x22”, Oil, watercolor, ink, acrylic, collage, on arches


“I am the Egg! Lady #1,” 2014, 30”x22”, Oil, watercolor, ink, acrylic, collage on arches


About the Artist

“I’m a native to the state known for the popularity of many movements from surfing to hippies the sun shines brightly. I can change a washer in the bathroom faucet and know how to use most any tool… a screwdriver, drill, hammer or saw. I eat mostly fruits and vegetables but am an ice cream-aholic. My passion is creativity, my art, the activity of the mind in motion… my son. I at times play a mean game of chess. I designed and sculpted my first chess set and it’s beautiful. My mother was a florist and actually designed some headresses for the Los Floristas Headdress Ball. My father was big on Sci-fi. I grew up with a garage full of Astounding, Amazing, and other science fiction magazines lining the walls of our garage. I own a MAC… it has changed my life. I seldom get tired of watching over and over again reruns of the TV shows “One Step Beyond,” “Outer Limits,” “StarTrek,” “NCIS,” “Stargate,” “Dr. Who,” and a few others. I believe that three of the most important actions one can take is to observe life around them, ask questions, take action––and oh yeah, smile.” ~Karrie Ross

For more on the work of Karrie Ross, visit: http://www.karrierossfineart.com

Jill Thayer, Ph.D. is an artist, educator, and curatorial archivist. She is Associate Professor of Art History for Allan Hancock College, Santa Maria, California; and online faculty at Santa Monica College in Art History: Global Visual Culture; Southern New Hampshire University in  Humanities/Art History and Marketing; and Post University in the MBA Marketing program for the Malcolm Baldrige School of Business. Jill is contributing writer for Artvoices Magazine, Los Angeles; and Artpulse Magazine, Miami. Her postdoctoral project, “In Their Own Words: Oral Histories of CGU Art,” featuring Professors Emeritus, Professors, and Alumni of Claremont Graduate University is included in Archives of American Art at The Smithsonian Institution.