TwoThreeNine recently met up with local papercrafter Karen Tharp. For promotion of her upcoming show at Cool Hand Luc’s titled Flora (return to South Florida), we sat down to find out a little more about the artist and her beautifully meticulous pieces. Karen is inspired by clean colors, negative space, and moving back to Fort Myers after graduating from Florida State. Creating these lace-like pieces, she says, were kind of like therapy.
So you’re saying that Fort Myers has inspired this project. Would you say it changed your attitude about moving back here?
When I first got back here it was very therapeutic! It was only going to be 3 weeks and its turned into 3 months, and that’s OK. This show sort of gathered inspiration as I just got back from Tallahassee and moved back with my parents in Fort Myers which is what a lot of people are doing. Fort Myers is a place that feels really negative sometimes for people who grew up here. I don’t like the weather and I didn’t like the plant life, and I didn’t see the parts that I liked, and its sort of my way of coming to terms with living here.
What exactly are those paper-cutting things that you do?
Yeah it’s just hand-cut paper with an exacto knife, and I go through a lot of blades. These are all plants that grow around my parent’s house which I just moved back to. It will be 10 pieces on wall, and I’m making frames that are sort of like shadow boxes. They’ll look suspended, which makes you understand the delicacies of them. The actual pieces themselves fit in the palm of my hand. Can I add that I made the frames too and cut the glass! I’m a little bit of a control freak.
Would you say you have come to enjoy it or is like Masochism?
I like it a lot. One of my nicknames in college was Tedium. The teachers would get annoyed when kids called me that, but I have a ruler tattooed to my finger. I don’t want to use the word anal, but I’m kinda OCD. I think that a lot of artists seem to be. and when I’m not making art in other areas in my life I get anxious about them, so its my way of working it out by cutting pieces of paper for 50 hours. It makes a beautiful end result so I think its OK.
While working on this project I listened to music like Bon Iver, Nicki Minaj, and Lady Gaga. And watching Law and Order SVU. When you’re cutting the same piece of paper for 50 hours you’re gonna watch something weird… Also, Veronica Mars.
How and why did you decide to have a show at Cool Hand Luc’s?
I’m best friends with Kristie [of Cool Hand Luc's].
I think that it has really great energy about it and great people, and I’m glad that there is youth happening in Fort Myers.