Karma Henry is a Paiute, Italian, and Portuguese artist based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, whose acrylic paintings consider the landscape as site for both the literal and personal embodiment of place.
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Karma Henry is a Paiute, Italian, and Portuguese artist whose acrylic paintings consider the landscape as site for both the literal and personal embodiment of place. Such paintings combine rich color with symmetrical patterns “borrowed from regional architecture, basketry, pottery, geometric landmarks, and organic shapes,” according to her artist statement. These color fields appear as though geometric forms have been stamped atop a natural landscape in which Henry perceives such natural scenes anew. She considers place to be a fluid concept, at once objective while also a highly personal manifestation based on subjective perception. She considers these paintings visual iterations of her lived experience.
In Pitawa-ti kahinu Pami (Looking towards the West), 2022, for example, a wave-like triangular pattern appears on both the top and lower portions of a beautiful field scene. Billowy clouds combine with swirling sky to dominate most of the composition, while in the lower third of the painting, dark trees and soft grass blend seamlessly with the triangular pattern comprising the work’s lower register.
In other paintings, Henry imposes the geometric stamp-like pattern along the compositional registers of the scene which demarcate the earth and sky, while allowing flashes of detail to peek through the bold geometric patterns.
Based in Santa Fe, Henry is a member of the Great Basin Native Artists group and a tribal member of the Fort Independence Paiute Community of California. From 2016 to 2018, she served as Vice Chairman for her tribe on the Fort Independence Indian Reservation in Independence, California.
“I hope I can also impress upon those who meet me and/or see my work, that Native peoples are immeasurably tied to the land,” she writes. “While we live in a modern world, our beliefs reflect what we’ve been taught historically and traditionally, and as a Native artist, I think those beliefs are important in the context of our tribal communities, Native art community, and in the greater Art community. I want to recognize the designs of our ancestors while also exploring my interpretation of the patterns and imagery around me.”