Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Karyn Gabriel has built a career that flows between architecture and art — a dynamic that serves as a point of inspiration for cross pollination between those worlds. She studied architecture, graphic design, and art, receiving a BFA in Interior Architecture from the University of Michigan. During a vibrant twenty-five-year career in architectural design, Karyn’s award-winning projects were recognized in numerous publications including Architectural Record, Interior Design, Architectural Digest, and Print magazines.
Yet all the while, there was an itch.
Karyn longed to be a maker, getting dirty in materials to translate ideas and experiences into a personal visual language. Awarded a full-merit scholarship to study at Oregon College of Art and Craft, she returned to the studio and received a postbaccalaureate degree in sculptural ceramics. She continued her studies as a curatorial intern at Portland’s Museum of Contemporary Craft under director Namita Gupta Wiggers.
Karyn mines her design background creating work with a focus on experimentations in structure, themes of strength and fragility, a love of the imperfect and the raw beauty of pared-down forms. Her work is subtle yet filled with detail, beckoning the viewer to pause and pay close attention.
Since 2019, Karyn has exhibited throughout California and the western United States. In addition to gallery exhibitions, she has a variety of private and corporate collectors across the US and honored having her work published in in Ceramics Monthly, California Homes and California Home + Design magazines.
My work searches beneath the surface, paring form to its essence and revealing a raw, untamed beauty in both our internal and external landscapes. From the way our bones define flesh or the underlying strength discovered in compositions of delicate forms, I am fascinated by structure.
Using repetition as a powerful building block, I explore themes of fragility, strength and tension in my work through modularity and construction. Texture and pattern result from the building process itself, nothing is superfluous, allowing the material and compositions to rise to the fore.
Everyday experiences, memories and family history are the tiny slivers of life built one atop the other. Sometimes they mold comfortably together, other times the jagged edged moments poke and tear at their neighbors. My current work delves into personal identity and our sometimes tenuous attempt to hold all the disparate pieces together. What binds those elements of self is a source of inspiration and exploration.
There’s beauty in the elemental and unadorned, like a desert landscape, which exposes the subtle brutality often hidden in plain sight. Yet, I’m searching for an element of mystery, a soulfulness drawing you into the work. It’s that pursuit that propels and reminds me that working with clay is a constant practice of letting go in order to be revealed.