Discipline: Interdisciplinary Art – performance, Interdisciplinary Art – multimedia installation, Visual Art – photography

Karen Ostrom

Discipline: Interdisciplinary Art – performance, Interdisciplinary Art – multimedia installation, Visual Art – photography
Region: New Haven, CT
MacDowell Fellowships: 2003, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2017

Karen Ostrom is a Canadian-born Brooklyn-based artist working in photography, installation, video, and most recently, animation. Her work with linear and non-linear narratives has been developing for many years under the umbrella project "Holiday in Hope," a fictional fishing village where the characters, all played by Ostrom, are defined by their labour or profession. Initially meant to be metaphors for the human psyche, the characters, over time, began to take on a life of their own initiating project content and direction.

Made at MacDowell in 2012, [The Third of May, 1808] and accompanying text, succinctly illustrates this developing phenomenon in her work. “We wanted to make a picture that meant something; that expressed how we felt about what was going on around us. When we chose Goya’s The Third of May, 1808, it seemed so perfect in its depiction – in its poignancy and urgency in emoting the injustices and indescribable horrors. However, difficulty arose when deciding who would play the soldiers in the firing squad. Although the consolation for playing that role was that their face would be hidden, it was still necessary to draw straws.”

Ostrom has received Canada Council for the Arts Grants, the Duke and Duchess of York Prize in Photography from the Canada Council, and a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship. She is the recipient of numerous residency fellowships, including MacDowell, Instituto Sacatar in Brazil, Fundación Valparaíso in Spain, and the Elizabeth Foundation in New York City.

Her work work with photography and visual narratives have been installed, exhibited, and performed in museums, galleries and festivals throughout North America and Europe, including the Liverpool Biennial, Bring to Light; Nuit Blanche on the Brooklyn waterfront and CONTACT Photography Festival in Toronto.

The first phase of The Lacemaker's Secret, an animation project conceived in Brazil and worked on at MacDowell will debut at BRIC Media in Brooklyn in July of 2017.



Karen Ostrom worked in the Putnam studio.

The Graphics Studio (as it was originally named) was converted to its present use in 1972–1974 through a grant from the Putnam Foundation, and originally served the property as both a power house and pump house. Well water was pumped from a large cistern to Hillcrest, the Foreman’s Cottage, and the lower buildings closer to…

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