Visual Storytelling
Narratives for Ten Collages

by Karen E. Gersch, Aesthetic Activist

Please feel free to select the tabs to view Karen E. Gersch's work,
to read the images stories, and to read her artistic statement & bio.

To have a close look at Karen E. Gersch's work, please click on the images.

"Foreign Shores"
All I Have Is
This One Bag"
"Touching History"
"Woman, Why Suffer?"
"Executive Orders"
"Unwanted Touch"
"Jammin'"
The Lure
The Lure of the Contemporary"
"Brute Force"

“New Air We Breathe”
Immigrants represent 22% of NYS’s current populace. Most are refugees forced to leave their countries, seeking asylum from persecution. Despite facing strange surroundings, customs, languages and often unfriendly scrutiny; the change is deeply embraced - like oxygen - to those gasping for new lives.

"Foreign Shores"
Women in exile are vulnerable souls. Their naked longings and hopes to achieve, to sow long-tended goals, are still too often unrequited.  Abducted, forced into servitude, assaulted...yet many still envision those distant foreign shores of their dreams.

"All I Have Is This One Bag"
If your house is on fire: you run run run, but what to take? When your country and safety is aflame: families flee, all possessions left behind. For those displaced nomads en routeto borders - children especially - clutching sparse remnants of their lives.

“Touching History”
Our roots define us. Perspectives of history align and ignite us. Humanity grows when we consider how, despite diversities and differences, we are connected. We must look to our Elders, those fossils of knowledge and erudite souls of understanding.

“Woman, Why Suffer?”
Why, indeed?  Despite Suffrage efforts, voting rights, gender equations, sexual freedom, labor and family empowerments - the advancement of women remains largely shackled.  We are still “the elephant in the room”.

“Executive Orders”
He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetuate it.  He who accepts evil without protesting against it, is really cooperating with it”.  Amen, Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Unwanted Touch”
Assailants include famed chefs, athletes, coaches, directors, politicians, celebrities, trusted teachers, TV hosts, newscasters, doctors, students, strangers on subways, on urban streets... the flood of unwelcome hands, uninvited embraces are an age-old plague for which I fear no vaccine will ever be discovered.

“Jammin’”
Louis Armstrong crooned it: “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing”.  I wanted this piece to dance.  Made a jive of patterns hiphop the page - gyrating hues - loud, resounding with promise, a dynamic of audible joy and grace.

“The Lure of the Contemporary"
I don’t sew, so this is as close to a quilt as I can conjure, a current of patterns and text in a swirl of colors.   Old, rural lives flow through an urban world; time pulses and recedes.

“Brute Force”
Every sixty seconds, 20 people in the U.S. are abused by an intimate partner.  Every year, nearly 2 million women are assaulted.  Even more die.  The longtime visible wounds and suffering are what saddens me; bruises on our communal souls.  Victims look down, hearts and hopes battered while society tends to look away.

Karen E. Gersch's Artistic Statement

I began experimenting with paint, torn paper and printed words in the early eighties, originally for a series on endanger animals. Although I did march in Washington, DC against the Vietnam War, I found I much preferred being an aesthetic activist.

The palette of collage has served well to express my disdain and anguish regarding ongoing global genocides and civic injustices. But it was the pandemic's hurricane of vicious assaults: the politics, protests, governmental insanities that fueled this collection. All the paintings and collages created last year and this year, were flamed by the horrors and criminal activities that ensued.

I used antique and vintage newspapers and magazines - some a century old - and ripped apart articles about warring factions and past turmoils; layering phrases, articles and prose with oils, acrylic, pencil and ink.

Above all, I use the form to tell stories; heart songs with morals or hints of how we can be more humane. Collages are like reparations, loose threads from the very torn fabrics of our country. As artists, we are voices attesting to truths.

Karen E. Gersch

Karen E. Gersch's Bio

Karen E. Gersch defines her life with words, paint and performances. She holds a BFA with Honors from Pratt Institute, has exhibited and is collected globally. A Russian-trained acrobat, she was a founding member of the Big Apple Circus and has traveled worldwide with circus, ballet and theater productions, always accompanied by sketchbooks and writing journals. Gersch currently teaches, directs and choreographs docu-drama productions, as well as curating large-scale art exhibitions throughout the Hudson Valley. She continues to paint, illustrate and create collages that address the human condition.

WEBSITE:  https://www.artbykarenegersch.com

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/artbykeg

INSTAGRAM: @humanitytalesbykeg

LITERARY WORK: https://www.humanitytales.blog

Upcoming Exhibits and Productions:

Director, September 9, 11 & 12:

“Humanitee Tales” at The Lobby at the Ritz Theater in Newburgh. In 2019, as the recipient of a Decentralization Grant from Arts Mid-Hudson, Gersch created and directed an original full length production which threaded the life stories of eight individuals from diverse backgrounds. The show went on hiatus in 2020; but h s now been revived with funding from Safe Harbors of the Hudson and a brand new cast.

Curator, October 1- Nov. 14:

“Traveling Folk: Worlds Explored” multi-media exhibition at The Howland Cultural Center in Beacon, NY. Open to the public on weekends, 1- 5 PM.

Artist, October 27 - 30th:

International Symposium on Performance Science, at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Gersch’s circus artwork was chosen to represent the Conference.

Artist & Keynote Speaker, January/February, 2022:

Solo Exhibition of circus artwork in the Upper Gallery of the Hoboken Historical Museum in NJ. It coincides with a year-long exhibition on the Museum’s first floor called “The Avenue”: a pictorial history of yesteryear on Washington St., which includes the Hoboken Circus Arts Center, where Gersch studied in the 70’s.

Director, March, 2022:

“A Cowboy From The Bronx”, physical autobiography of Angelo Iodice - western roping artist - that Gersch directed, to be revived at City Tech College in Brooklyn, NY.

RETURN TO S is For September & Storytelling
Studio Theater in Exile

“Theatre takes place all the time wherever one is, and art simply facilitates persuading us this is the case”

- John Cage