Sample Artist Statements/Bios

Full Page Artist Statement: karen atkinson

My work for the past 20 years has used revealing aspects of history, which have a profound impact on our contemporary culture today.  In the current climate where many believe history has no relevance, I find myself continually returning to those aspects that are often hidden or misrepresented in the “official” recordings for posterity.  In my varied and diverse approaches to making art; installations; public, curatorial and web projects, the context of the work has an impact on the work’s relationship to the viewer.

My work ranges from the context of the street to museums, movie theaters, to presentations of sound through parking meters.  Often focusing on the trappings of power and the rituals needed for it’s effect, or evoking the traditional distancing of the supplicant by those in power, giving voice to those who are often unheard, or revealing the power of language through history.  The work takes on various forms intended to draw in the viewer as co-author and witness, create new and unpredictable cycles of thoughts and associations, providing an experimental chance to challenge one’s perceptions, perspectives and assumptions.

My current project, “Prisoner of Love” is a multi media installation with a projection of a 41 minute Director movie on a glow in the dark screen made by the artist.  There are bus benches for comfortable seating, and a sound track with multiple interviews, music and sound.  When the images are projected on a glow in the dark screen, it charges the screen so that when the image changes, it leaves a trace of the image before it, often affecting the image which comes next – in a way that history does the same.

“Prisoner of Love” is a multi layered story about the my great aunt and uncle, who were married illegally in 1934, in Tijuana, Mexico.  She was Caucasian (Danish American), he Japanese American.  They were included in the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.  Although my grandfather grew up with a Japanese American as his best friend, when his sister married, she was shunned by her brothers and sisters.  When the local newspaper found out about their marriage a few years later, it hit the front pages of the local newspaper.  This project is a complex layering of stories, revealing the contradictions inherent in the lives of this once close knit family, and their subsequent “recovery” from extreme bouts of racism.  

Art remains as a strong contender of how we share our thoughts and ideas. Throughout history, art has survived the tidal wave of information, and remains an unpredictable source of imagination.  It has the possibilities of changing one’s thoughts, opening new ideas, and borrowing through received ideas so common to our educational system.  I have no grand illusions that art will create a revolution in the traditional sense, but have witnessed the powerful changes it can make in an individual.  Just one new idea can change a persons’ perception.  The world may not change in an instant by art, but it’s slow and insipid spread into the active part of our brains lives to tell the tale.  It may leave the studio and make it’s way around the world, and yet come back to the studio where anything can happen.

The use of materials in my work is calculated.  I am often looking for avenues of the unexpected.  An ironic twist to images or things you might expect.  Or their combinations.  Provoking a participant to new and perhaps unexplored territories.


short artist statement: Sam durant

My artwork takes a critical view of social, political and cultural issues.  Often referencing American history, my work explores the varying relationships between popular culture and fine art. Having engaged subjects as diverse as the civil rights movement, southern rock music and modernist architecture, my work reproduces familiar visual and aural signs, arranging them into new conceptually layered installations. While I use a variety of materials and processes in each project my methodology is consistent. Although there may not always be material similarities between the different projects they are linked by recurring formal concerns and through the subject matter.   The subject matter of each body of work determines the materials and the forms of the work.  Each project often consists of multiple works, often in a range of different media, grouped around specific themes and meanings.  During research and production new areas of interest arise and lead to the next body of work.


short artist statement: millie wilson

I think of my installations as unfinished inventories of fragments: objects, drawings, paintings, photographs, and other inventions.  They are improvisational sites in which the constructed and the readymade are used to question our making of the world through language and knowledge.  My arrangements are schematic, inviting the viewer to move into a space of speculation.  I rely on our desires for beauty, poetics and seduction.

The work thus far has used the frame of the museum to propose a secret history of modernity, and in the process, point to stereotypes of difference, which are hidden in plain sight.  I have found the histories of surrealism and minimalism to be useful in the rearranging of received ideas. The objects I make are placed in the canon of modernist art, in hopes of making visible what is overlooked in the historicizing of the artist.  This project has always been grounded in pleasure and aesthetics.


bio: martin kersels

Mr. Kersels was born in Los Angeles and attended UCLA, receiving a B.A. in art in 1984 and an M.F.A. in 1995. His body of work ranges from collaborative performances with the group SHRIMPS (1984–93) to large-scale sculptures such as Tumble Room (2001). Since 1994, Mr. Kersels’s objects and projects have been exhibited at museums both nationally and internationally, including the 1997 Whitney Biennial, the Centre Pompidou, MOCA Los Angeles, the Museum Tinguely, Kunsthalle Bern, and the J. Paul Getty Museum. A survey of his work, Heavyweight Champion, was organized and exhibited by the Tang Museum in 2007 and the Santa Monica Museum of Art in 2008. His room-sized sculpture 5 Songs, and an accompanying performance series, Live on 5 Songs, was on view in the 2010 Whitney Biennial. Before joining the faculty at Yale he was a faculty member and co-director of the art program at the California Institute of the Arts. Mr. Kersels was appointed associate professor and director of graduate studies in sculpture in 2012.


bio: karen atkinson

Karen Atkinson is a media, installation, public artist, independent curator, and collaborator. Atkinson has published and guest edited a number of publications. Exhibiting and curating internationally, Atkinson's work has been shown in South Africa, Australia, Europe, Mexico, Canada, throughout the USA, and in the Fifth Havana Biennial in Cuba and the 2011 Biennale de Paris. She has a Ted Talk on hybrid careers for artists at In 1991, she was a co-founding director of Side Street Projects, a non-profit artist-run organization in Los Angeles, which continues to thrive now in Pasadena. Atkinson has held a faculty position at CalArts since 1988. She has taught workshops for over 20 years, both regionally and nationally, for organizations like the California and Boston Lawyers for the Arts, College Art Association, NCECA, The National Association of Arts Organizations, and dozens of additional artist-run spaces and non-profits as well as universities. Karen created the GYST software for artists from scratch and in 2000 she founded GYST as an artist-run professional practices service company. Currently, Atkinson chooses to focus on making life better for artists and less on exhibiting her own work. In her spare time she serves on Boards and Advisory Boards of local and national arts organizations, advises artists on their careers, and tries to get into as much art trouble as possible. To view some of Karen’s projects visit