The natural world has always been the touchstone for Karen Fitzgerald’s artwork. Born and raised on a dairy farm in the center of Wisconsin, Fitzgerald has been drawn to nature from the moment she was born. “From the time I was little, I have had the privilege of working in gardens,” she writes on her website. “I am connected to the earth when I share the conversation of growth with plants.”
Over the past five years, her fascination with the natural world, in general, has been redirected to an examination of the moon and its cycles. “The cycles this orb transits, and the myriad manifestations of its appearances embody the persistence of change, the agitation of energy that we live within,” she writes. “Communicating that within the staid parameters of plasticity seems a fool’s errand, yet for my work, my voice, it is a perfect fit.”
Her creative process includes thinning oil paint until it turns into a fluid form, then building up layers and producing a luminous, subtle, rich surface. The paint is added on top of a gilded surface. According to Fitzgerald, the gilded ground, whether copper, silver, 23k, 21k, or 12k gold provides a distinctly “other-worldly” space. “It evokes a universal space including our physical plane,” she writes poetically.
Her use of gilded ground reminds of how Renaissance artists used gold leaf to signify spiritual aspects. As such, her use of gold does not hold a decorative intention but, rather, a symbolic one. “I intend that the precious metals indicate something beyond our physical world, something metaphysical,” she explains.
Take a look at some of her metaphysical paintings: