Karen Bubb is a visual artist who works primarily in encaustic painting. She is also Boise’s Cultural Planner and teaches Design Thinking and Creativity at Boise State University. Bubb served for six years on the Americans for the Arts Public Art Network Board and in 2012 she was honored with the Governor’s Arts Award for Excellence in Arts Administration. She is Co-Founder of Surel’s Place, an artist-in-residence program, and a Trustee of the Alexa Rose Cultural and Mitchell Family Foundations. Bubb earned her MPA and a Graduate Certificate in Community and Regional Planning from BSU, and a BFA from University of Oregon.
From a place of love, strength and balance, my life’s purpose is to inspire others and myself to experience beauty; to be intellectually inquisitive; and to serve community—thus contributing to satisfying, creative, and joyously lived lives. When I initiate an artistic project, I reflect on this purpose to guide and check myself. Am I acting from a position of love, strength and balance? How might this project inspire myself or others to see beauty? What opportunities for learning are there in this endeavor? How might this project serve the larger community?
My art practice provides several opportunities for me to answer these questions with resounding curiosity, creativity, and positive enthusiasm. I am interested in the history of the world and its peoples—How do cities form? What did people wear in the 1400s? What do the shapes and patterns of pottery tell us about a culture? What do plants mean in different mythological stories? I explore these things and more through books, travel, and the making of art. I always have a notebook in my bag to draw. I also take photographs wherever I go and frequently work from my own photos to create paintings or mixed-media collages. I talk to people and translate perspectives into my creative work. My preferred mediums are gouache, encaustic (hot wax), and collage. I also make hand-built pottery and stained glass out of love of the materials.
Working in a series of multiple, related pieces allows me to explore a single topic from several angles. There are always many ways to look at a place, a person, a city, or a culture and I like to explore their threads through various works. And, in the end, the sharing of the work is as important as the making. What conversations does my work spark? How does it make people feel? Where are our commonalities? How do we see things differently? Exhibitions, artist talks, and workshops are also an important part of my creative practice as they connect to and serve community.