Artist of the Month – Karen P. Guzmán
From the mountains of Mexico to the Renaissance center of Florence Italy, Karen Guzmán has hopped around the globe expanding her portfolio, artistic vision and skillset. She now finally seems to have settled down in Stockholm together with her boyfriend and a cat whilst still a few companies and a great magazine about our beloved city for visitors and locals alike. Her digitial magazine, Your Living City is geared towards providing info for everyone about culture, food, sights and activities all around Stockholm throughout the year. We’ve been featured on her site so we figured it was due time to return the favor and have her as our featured artist of the month in the Skybar. You can find her on Instagram as well as Facebook. Karen’s work will be up until the end of June, so make sure to swing by and have a closer look at photographs from all around the world!
Tell us briefly about yourself:
Where you’re from, age, education, jobs in the past or currently, hobbies besides art, pets, music I am from Northern México, from a city called Monterrey, the city of mountains, I’ve lived in Sweden for the past 5 and a half years. I’m 36 years old but I’ll be 37 now on June 11. I studied my BA in communications and media in Querétaro, México. Then I did a photography course in Florence, Italy. After that I studied a Master of Arts in Visual Communications in Birmingham, England, followed by a Master in Music Documentary in Barcelona, Spain.
I have worked in every single thing you can imagine, from selling news papers at the traffic lights, to opening pension accounts, to bartender, cashier, to teaching video, animation and languages at University level. Currently I’m an entrepreneur and own two companies, one called Produktioner 1WT where I produce photography and video for private clients as well as companies: www.1-way-ticket.com And I also co-own an online magazine called Your Living City Stockholm, there I write articles about art, culture, fashion, music, etc. in English for the international community in Stockholm, and I publish video and photography also about Stockholm.
In my time off you’ll find me at the gym, doing weights or hanging out with friends, it’s hard to keep me still so I like going out a lot. I love traveling and one of my recurrent travels is to Italy, to see the Venice Biennial of art every two years, I’m crazy about it and haven’t missed one since 2005. I have a 4 year old cat which I absolutely adore, he and my boyfriend are my family in Sweden.
I am also a music addict and love to photograph concerts and festivals. Last year I fulfilled my dream of photographing Radiohead when they played Stockholm. Radiohead is the best thing that ever happened to music. Apart from them I mostly enjoy rock and electronic music.
When did you realize you wanted to work with art?
It was during my first visit to the Venice Biennial in 2005, I saw a video installation by Swiss artist Pippilotti Rist, she had this psychedelic projection on the white ceiling of the baroque church San Stae, using the church itself as an organic part of her art. To see it, viewers could literally just lie down on the “leaves” of an oversize tree made out of cushions that were scattered on the floor. The church was darkened, a musical score played and film sequences of a lush paradise unfolded. It just left me perplexed and I said this is it, I want to create something that makes the people’s body be carried along by the spirit with a vision, an image, a sensorial experience.
How did you develop your style as an artist?
It started during my MA in Visual Communications, my tutor Ravi Deepres, who is a very talented visual artist, guided me into finding my style, identifying the things that move me and how to make them visual and tell the story I wanted. I even worked together with him in some productions for the Royal Opera House of London and the Paris Opera House, among others, which helped me develop from being a student into making my work stand by itself.
Can you tell us a little bit more about this style of art?
Both in my photography and in my video I’m a story teller. When it comes to photography I don’t just capture a still moment in time and place, instead I create images that suggest the story, the feelings and conditions surrounding the photograph. I also like to tell stories with my videos but not only stories that happen in a time frame and location but also stories that speak to the spirit with feelings, causes and reactions.
What is art to you and how is it important to you?
Art is important to me because gives me the possibility to arrest a person’s attention and take their mind and soul for a ride of pleasuring feelings and thoughts. Art awakens the fantasy, evoques creativity and makes possible the impossible. Art is the highest and most benevolent of human expressions, it helps us to evolve in an intangible way, if we live without it we would be depriving us from so much learning, so much enlightenment and wonder.
Are there any artists out there who inspire you?
Oh yes, starting with my tutor at my university in Birmingham, Ravi Deepres. The already mentioned Pipilotti Rist, the also visual artist Bill Viola, music video director Mark Romanek. In painting there’s the surreal Remedios Varo. In photography there’s the legend Anton Corbijn, who’s also a music video and a film director. And a young photographer from Canada who is a master of light painting called Eric Paré.
Have you ever done anything socially or politically related?
I try to express some of my social concerns, mostly ecologically related in the articles I write and publish but haven’t yet taken it to my art, though I have some projects in mind I would like to realise. And in terms of politics, that’s something that I am not keen on.
How often do you travel (in or outside of Sweden) and do you ever try to do work abroad?
I travel almost every 4 months, I always bring my camera with me, if I do something when I travel it mostly has to do with photography, the majority of the photos in this exhibition were achieved whilst traveling. But I also started doing light painting photography when traveling, mostly mixing nature and landscapes with it, it’s been my newest hobby.
What was your last big project and where/how did it go?
I co-directed a music documentary in Spain with a Spanish improvisation band called Les Aus, that included a lot of filming and planning for a long documentary.
What’s are some of your goals for the short term and the long term?
In the short term, well I am still growing my company and establishing as a professional and as an artist in Sweden, connections and jobs don’t come easy, I would like to have more of those and money doesn’t hurt either. In the long term I would like to go back to doing video installations and something that’s been bugging me for some time is that I want to do something related to México, I feel like I have left that side of my origins a bit outside from what I create and it really is a big part of me, a part that wants to find expression as well.