Karen Archia - Visual Artist + Creative Director, Public Art Practice
In 2012, I took a step out and exhibited for the first time at Labourlove Gallery in Durham, NC.
I painted for many years as an outlet for my own creative voice during two decades of professional, non-profit work where I was writing about and for other people and organizations. Artist Kelly Dew, co-owner of Labourlove Gallery, urged me to exhibit after seeing my work. She also became my first artistic mentor.
2019 offered two major transformative events for me: I closed my coffee/retail shop The People's Perk, in Greensboro, NC after six years; and second, I received a scholarship to attend an art retreat at The Penland School of Craft -- a 100 year-old, internationally-recognized center for creatives in western North Carolina.
One change meant the end of an era; the other fed and nurtured by artistry in ways that are still unfolding. You can read my artist statement + exhibition list for a deeper dive into how I approach my artwork. Currently, I am Artist-in-Residence at the Center for Visual Artists in Greensboro, NC. I work in the front space of the Center, so passersby can see me working and visitation is permitted within COVID-safe requirements.
Since I also had a studio space within my coffee shop, art-making in a public setting and creative expression with and around people have become centered in my art practice. I also believe all people fundamentally have a creative spirit and I love to encourage that expression by art-making in community.
As a result, I started a community service effort called Public Art Practice (PAP) and hosted 60 free art-making sessions + Open Studios from September 2019 - March 2020 at Deep Roots Market, Greensboro's only community-owned grocery store and cafe, and two art talk/community painting events at the Greensboro Public Library. I plan to grow PAP's partnerships and presence in 2021.