Karin Olah works in a manner that mimics the flow of paint from a brush. Intricately cut, placed, and pasted textiles are combined with gouache, acrylic, and graphite to create Collage Paintings that are deep in color and texture.
From a small-town upbringing in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, her interest in Amish quilts and textile traditions led her to study Fiber Art at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. For several years following art school, Karin managed a textile studio in New York City, developing colors and patterns for clients, including Donna Karan, Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren, and Peter Marino Interior Architects. .
Now applying her fabric know-how to the realm of painting, Karin exhibits her collage art in solo and group shows on the East Coast. Her work has been featured in American Contemporary Art, Art Business News, Charleston Style and Design, and Charleston Magazine, on the covers of Charleston Art Magazine, Black and White: Birmingham's City Paper, and Carolina Arts, and as the image for the 2011 Piccolo Spoleto Concert Poster as well as Charleston Farmers Market 2006 and 2007 posters and street banners. Corporate Collections include pieces in the Carolina Contemporary Collection of MUSC Ashley River Towers, Citadel College, City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs, and Shoestring Publishing Company.
Karin is a former board member of Redux Contemporary Art Center, Charleston Arts Coalition, and French Quarter Gallery Association. She recently moved with her husband, Craig Knowlton, from Charleston South Carolina, to Boulder Colorado. Karin enjoys dancing to Motown with her toddler daughter, Alison, and hiking the Coal Creek Trail with her chocolate Labradoodle, Joby.
Artist Statement -
"My work shares a secret - one that is waiting in the details. I use fabric like many artists use paint. From a distance, a viewer picks up on subject matter or abstract shapes and colors. Up close, you can find variety in fabric textures, wandering threads, transparent moments, and a history in the layers of my work.
I find many advantages in using fabric in my collages. Foremost, there is a connection I make with the world of quilt-making and fiber art. Growing up in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, I was exposed to the beauty and ingenuity of Amish Quilts. Fabric is a versatile material, one that I have an emotional response to. I am interested in finding metaphorical connections between fabric and subject matter.
In my studio, I'm pulled in two directions resulting in two new series. Many of the works are inspired directly from the plant world. I am finding connections between winding vines and unwinding thread on a spool. I am expressing the petals of large magnolia and orchid blossoms with silk and cotton. I am patch-working imaginary bouquets and inventing new fruits and vegetables. These color stories are bright and fruity.
My second series is much looser, less bound to representation and floral rendering. My abstracts are informed by quilt blocks, patch-working, and organic shapes. I'm working in gem tones balanced by neutrals, using pastels, colored pencils, acrylic and gouache paint on top (and underneath) the fabric collage.
I use a vocabulary of tricks pulled from quilt making, printmaking, graffiti art, and calligraphy in the construction and invention of my Collage Paintings. Working in textiles is something that - physically and metaphorically - I've always been wrapped up in, warmed by, and felt the weight of. I hope my work has that same enchanting hold on the viewer.