web site: karenmccarthyart.com
As a collage and fiber artist, I enjoy taking similar or disparate parts and melding them into something new, encountering how individual elements can be transformed when combined with others. I compose my collages constructions with great care, rearranging and further editing until every element feels like it’s fulfilling its role. Attention to detail is vital.
I fabricate my own collage materials, implementing painting and printmaking methods (paste paper printing, gelatin plate printing, stenciling, Citrasolv printing, manipulation of acrylic mediums, sanding, etc.) which allow for a gradual and incremental buildup (and removal) of imagery. I choose techniques which can result in a wide range of textural effects and moods, with varying degrees of transparency and depth. By layering the imagery and the elements, I can play with revealing and concealing, and further explore the mysteries that develop from these new combinations.
My art practice has greatly helped to sustain me through the COVID pandemic, as well as through other challenging periods during my life. When I’m thoroughly engaged with my processes, and immersed in a piece in progress, time can seem to stand still. Focusing on color, pattern, light and movement can be transformative for my body and my psyche. I also experience this when engaged with other artists’ work which inspires me. I hope that those who view my work can share in this joyful contemplation.
About the piece in Facing You
"Libby is a young woman that I have had the pleasure to paint many times as she has grown up.
In “A Glimpse” I sought to capture a more serious mature side of Libby while still portraying her sweetness and beauty.
I enjoy painting subjects that highlight fleeting moments, serenity and the natural beauty of youthfulness. In this painting
I was lucky enough to find all of these motifs on display in Libby’s calm presence. I aspire for my artwork always to celebrate the tranquility and wonder of
God’s love and hope."
Pearl McCarthy went to Mass College of Art intending to major in fashion design. During that time she worked for Alfred Fiandanca on Newbury street in Boston helping to put the finishing touches on gowns for clients that included Nancy Reagan and Grace Jones. Despite her early success in the world of fashion, Pearl McCarthy felt herself drawn towards painting. She switched majors and graduated from Mass College of Art with a degree in Painting as well as her teaching certification. Pearl's medium of choice is oil on linen and she is inspired by John Singer Sargent, William-Adolph Bouguereau and Joaquín Sorolla. Her work is realistic and focuses on capturing a likeness of her subject, but there is also a softness to her work that gives it a sense of tranquility. She has won dozens of awards for her work which is featured in private collections all over the country. Pearl McCarthy lives in Wayland, Massachusetts with her husband and children.
“My artwork is a place of serenity and creativity” Pearl McCarthy
My little Nikos Stylianos was born at 7:05 am on December 18th, 2020 and returned to God at 10:30 am the same day. I knew from three months into my pregnancy that my little boy wouldn’t live long, even if he made it all the way to labor; he was diagnosed with spina bifida, trisomy 18, and a hole in his heart. I decided that I would love him and be his mom for as long as he was with us, and trust God to take care of all of us, as scared as I felt. Those seven months of pregnancy and three and a half hours holding him were simultaneously the most heart wrenching and beautiful experience of my life. Nikos decided to meet us 2 months early at just 2 pounds---on the rug of our breezeway before we could even get into the car to go to the hospital.
I’ve felt all of the emotions; shock and sadness at the diagnosis, anger at others’ suggestions to abort him, fear of having to make a life or death decision in the hospital, doubt that I could do it, gratitude for holding him during his emergency baptism. With only seven months knowing him in utero and less than 4 hours in person, I’ve had to rely on drawing the few photos we took of him to process his short life and spend time with him. At first it was difficult to even look at the pictures of him as he slowly lost heat and color in his little body. But then it became my time to spend with my son, to study him, to touch his skin with my pencil. I find myself smiling and talking to him sometimes, telling him how much I enjoy his smushed little ears or funny little paddle feet.
Art is the only way that I can heal, and I now understand why God gave me the ability to draw.
I start by painting on my own body, to transform myself into a new creature: a blue-ringed octopus, an owl, or a monarch butterfly. Then, alone in my studio, I set my camera on the tripod and pose. Although it’s make-believe, it doesn’t feel like I’m pretending. The emotions of this new creature well up inside me. I let my body move in unexpected ways. I am expansive, and I do not constrain myself.
In my life outside the art studio, it is harder to be playful with my appearance. As a woman, I am acutely aware of which facial expressions are acceptable. I am aware of the meanings of different hairstyles. I know what a woman’s clothes say about her. (And I can never quite make mine say something true about me. Getting dressed always feels like pretending.)
I live near the woods and treasure my morning walks there. Among the plants and animals, I am not self-conscious. I am at ease just as I am, part of an interconnected web of life that transcends any social construct. Perhaps that is why I turn to the natural world for inspiration in my work. The creatures that I become are hybrids, both human and non-human. They are beyond gender, and when I inhabit them, I am free.
One of the most challenging aspects of living through the COVID-19 pandemic for me has been the question of how to process the inconceivable loss of life. I have experienced loss, and grief, but never on the scale that this catastrophe presents. The pieces I am submitting were prompted by a project started on Instagram, @markinglivescovid19, which proposes making works containing 1000 marks, each one representing a life lost to the pandemic. I decided to participate and made a series of drawings and mixed media work.
The exercise of counting marks was contemplative, and the intention of making something that held beauty was a way of honoring each person that the marks represented. The healing for me was in the experience of joy that comes from being connected to something more than myself: to the unknown people lost to the pandemic, to the ones who loved them, and to the creative spirit. I am still appalled; I am still full of inaccessible grief; but when I sit to make art, especially in this tender act of commemoration, I am comforted, and I let hope enter the process of making.
The simple act of being outside and going for walks is healing. I spend time at many public open spaces and conservation lands throughout the year. I always have a camera with me, often just my cell phone. I enjoy capturing moments to share with friends, family, and followers via social media to provide them with visual joy and beauty during their week. This has been particularly important to me during the pandemic when people have felt isolated and stressed. My goal is to create a shared sense of well-being and connection with nature.
Mount Auburn Cemetery is particularly special to me. As an active cemetery and arboretum, it’s an urban oasis for mourning, reflection, healing, and inspiration. I walk at MAC multiple times a week for pleasure and serenity. I also volunteer there as a Citizen Scientist making observations for various studies. I combine my photography with this field time and share these images as a way of encouraging environmental stewardship. Studying climate change and conservation we can heal our relationship with nature and help us to find peace and connection within ourselves.
Titles: Handle With Care
Unimpressed and Unassuaged
Media: Digital Photography
Description: These two portraits give us a glimpse of a moment in time that reveal a facet of the personality of the subjects and an emotion which may or may not be fleeting.
Contact: Melissa Monaghan
I am inspired by the natural beauty that surrounds me living in New England as well as by the unique landscapes, art, literature and cultures of the places where I have lived and worked—from Virginia to Montana, Italy to West Africa. My technique involves experimenting with multiple layers of colors, textures, shapes and marks created playfully and organically, embracing the unexpected, unintentional ‘mistakes’ inherent to the art-making process. My artwork is informed by professional experiences as a social worker focused on the overlapping issues of poverty, health and housing as well as by personal experiences as a woman, wife and mother in a constantly changing world affected by climate change and riddled with social injustice. Simultaneously, my work is a celebration of and meditation on the life events we share, from the mundane to the ethereal.
The three monoprints I am submitting for consideration were inspired by daily walks around a local reservoir throughout the seasons. During the past year these walks helped sustain me. The colors, shapes and lines I noticed everyday took on new meaning and provided new inspiration in my art making. While challenging days of remote work and homeschooling blended into each other and the impact of the pandemic around the world brought fresh horrors each morning, the dirt path I followed with my dog each day was reassuringly constant yet always slightly different. Each turn around the reservoir brought a new variation from the day before: a quiet power in the shape of the rock that I passed everyday; delicate lines in the layers of recently formed ice; surprising textures in the patterns of a fallen leaf. The natural world continued its work- it had seen plagues before. This thought was simultaneously comforting, astonishing and disconcerting. I sought to convey this sense of awe, reverence and succor in my art making- in the shapes, lines and colors inspired by those I saw on my walks. In layers of muted or saturated colors I tried to communicate the solace of understanding that these ordinary rocks, water and trees were so much grander than they seemed, so much more meaningful than prosaic landmarks passed in my quotidian routine. The process of attempting to communicate these ideas and feelings in my printmaking echo the peace and wonder I experience in nature. I hope that the artwork offers some sort of respite and joy to the viewer as well.
Prints of Helen's photograph are available in varying sizes - please contact her in interested:
Originally from Manhattan,
Helen studied fine arts photography in college
and has gone on to pursue her love for photography
over the next forty five years.
Her work has been shown in galleries
both nationally and internationally.
More of her work can be seen on her website at
I am most at home in the natural environment; it is there I experience the strongest sense of wonder and reconnection. It lures me in, slows me down, and invites me to open up and find the beauty before me. It might be the cast of light on a winter landscape or the intricate pattern in a spent seed-head that catches my eye. With my photos I want to elicit the same sense of awe and fascination in the viewer that I experience whether drawn by a rocky shoreline or woodland path, or the intricate patterns in a rosette of lichen or glinting ice crystals. My images are a way to explore the relationship between the parts that make up the whole, inviting the viewer to look more closely and find nature’s infinite variety and timeless powers of regeneration.
This black and white portrait is clearly a departure from my usual subjects. I am grateful to Emily Belz for a class assignment that pushed me outside my comfort zone and for the close friend and fellow photographer, Fritzi Galley, who kindly offered to sit for me.
Sally J. Naish - Principal
Light & Shade Garden Design.
A Group Show Featuring Work by the Artists behind the BELMONT ART ASSOCIATION's wildly successful
“Transforming Belmont” Public Art Project:
Adria Arch, Rocky Cotard, Nadya Cuevas, Anne Katzeff, Liz LaManche, Grace Julian Murthy and Ian Todreas
Funded by a grant from the Belmont Cultural Council
Thanks also to Anne Mahon