KAREN STEWART studied Fine Arts at Wits University and Graphic Design at the Johannesburg Art Foundation in the late 80s.
In 2007 she completed her Masters in Illustration at Stellenbosch University, specialising in botanical art. Her thesis entitled 'Opening the Curiosity Box' was a critical look at the influence of colonialism on botany and botanical art. In 2008 she curated the Kirstenbosch Botanical Art Biennale. The following year she was commissioned by Tokara Wine Estate to add to its botanical collection.
Her art has been exhibited in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Helsinki, and her work is in the prestigious Brenthurst Library, the University of Stellenbosch’s Africana Library and Tokara’s art collection. She is currently represented by Candice Berman Fine Art Gallery in Johannesburg, South Africa.
She is the author of a book about creative facilitation titled Boxcutter.
In 2013 Karen founded the Ah HA Company, which facilitates design thinking processes to unlock creative solutions to challenges.
She is also the executive director of Bright Sparks Creative Play, a non-profit company dedicated to bettering creative and entrepreneurial skills of teachers and children in township Early Childhood preschools.
2007 Graduated MPHIL Visual Art, University of Stellenbosch
2002 Assessors Course run by the M.A.P.P.P. SETA, Cape Town
1990 Graphic Design Johannesburg Art Foundation, Johannesburg
1988-9 BA (Fine Arts) University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
1987 Matriculated with university exemption
ARTICLES, INTERVIEWS, TALKS AND CURATION
2008 - 2012
Stewart curated a series twelve talks to introduce craft producers to art makers and visual culture for the Cape Craft and Design Institute Monthly Craft Sector Meeting. Speakers included Nandipha Mntambo, Roderick Sauls, Paul Edmunds, Heather Moore, Paul du Toit, Andile Dyalvane, Yda Walt, Justin Fiske, Gabby Raaf and she also facilitated a discussion panel “A Conversation Around Innovation”
2008 1] TV interview by Peter Ndoro on SABC Morning Live about “Opening the Curiosity Box”
2] Radio interview by John Richards about “Opening the Curiosity Box”
3] SAFM Radio interview by Nancy Richards about “Opening the Curiosity Box”
4] FMR Radio interview about “Opening the Curiosity Box”
July – Sept 2008 Kirstenbosch Biennale Botanical Art Show
SANBI (South African National Biodiverity Institute) commissioned Stewart to curate and manage this prestigious bi-annual event, a highlight of the Kirstenbosch calender. She convened the judging panel, curated the hanging, complied a successful media stategy media, mananged catalogue writing, design and production, opening event and award ceremony. She initiated a Lifetime Achievement Award - honouring Ariol Batten. A limited edition folio of 8 prints was produced and sold. She worked with the Prince Charles foundation to get a copy of the The Highgrove Florilegium - a two-volume book of botanical illustrations recording plants in the garden of Charles, Prince of Wales at Highgrove House in Gloucestershire. The volumes, published in 2008 and 2009, contain watercolours painted by invited leading botanical artists from around the world.
2019 7 - 22 August #ArtLadies, Berman Contemporary, Rand Steam, Johannesburg
2019 7 – 11 August Big in Japan, Candice Berman Gallery at 100% Design, Gallager Estate, Johannesburg
2019 12 - 14 July The Anxiolytic Effect, Candice Berman Gallery at RMB Turbine Art Fair, Illovo, Johannesburg
2019 24 - 28 May The Anxiolytic Effect Solo Show, Candice Berman Gallery, Design Joburg, Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg
2019 April New Blood, Art@first Association, First Rand Bank, Sandton
The Weather Girls two works presented on a group show curated by Candice Berman with Dave Robertson, Adele van Heerden, Juan Stockenstroom and Michael Metelerkamp
2019 April Works on Paper X, Kalk Bay Modern, Cape Town
Group Show with William Kentridge, Bambo Sibiya, Colbert Mahisile, Lyn Smuts, Mongezi Ncaphayi and Landi Raubenheimer
2018 Oct The Weather Girls, two works presented at Dorp Street Gallery, Stellenbosch
2017 Streets Ahead, Art and Design Centre, Cape Town
Collection of paper collages commenting on how the artist relates to the city.
2007 Oct – Nov Greenhouse – from Painting to Plastic, Bell-Roberts Gallery, Lourensford, Stellenbosch
Group show curated by Suzelle Bell-Roberts with Lyndi Sales, Tamlin Blake, Elmarie Constadius, Ethel May Dixie, Stephen Inggs, Nigel Mullins, Cameron Platter, Dianne Victor, Leigh Voight, Barbara Wildenboer, Nik Bladden, Clinton Friedman and others.
2007 Feb – March Opening the Curiosity Box, National Library of South Africa, Cape Town Solo show artist’s book and watercolour botanical works, show casing a curated collection of 17th C botanical books.
See News and Updates for media coverage of this event.
2007 Jan Small Spaces, Big Places, US Gallery, Stellenbosch
Masters Graduate show with Hannah Morris and Louis Barnard.
2006 Nov The Collage Show, What if the World Gallery, Cape Town
Group show curated by Michael Taylor including paper collage works by Hannah Morris, Jeanne Hoffman, Julia Clarke and Marna Hattingh.
2006 Kirstenbosch Botanical Art Biennale Exhibition, Old Mutual Hall, Kirstenbosch National Gardens.
Specialist botanical art showcase of South African and international artists.
2004 April – May For the record/Off the record, Gordart Gallery, Johannesburg
Group show curated by Gordon Froud. This is a large group show of artists from all over South Africa who are working with/ on LP records.
2004 Nov Far and Wide, Absa Gallery, Johannesburg
Curated by Gordon Froud of gordart Gallery. This exhibition emerging artists from areas like Soweto and Katlehong, to better known artists from Pretoria and Johannesburg. The show is intended as a focus on an eclectic, broad range of work spanning races, sexes, persuasions and other classifications to reveal the depth of talent that is out there and emerging.
2003 Feb YDEsire 4th Softserve Party, Castle of Good Hope, Cape Town
Group show curated by Kim Lieberman and James Webb. A one-night-only, inter-media art party featuring the cream of South African creative talent. The venue presented performance, installation and other deliciously wild artistic collaborative hybrids. “How to decorate your Koek” was a tongue in cheek collaboration with writer Lauren Beukes, taking a stab at “The Rules” dating handbook. We presented an interactive performance piece culminating with a celebrity getting her ‘koek’ iced.
2003 Group Show, Stand for Art Gallery in Staford.
Curated by gallery owner Jay Liebenburg.
2002 How to Decorate your Koek, Lola’s Café, Cape Town
Art fanzine launch with interactive performance. Collaboration with Lauren Shantall.
2001 Dec South Africa Today, Helsinki Convention Centre, Helsinki.
Group exhibition showcasing South African art.
2001 Dec Annunciation, Rafikis, Cape Town
Solo show of oil paintings.
2000 Feb Headless I Wander, Olympia Café, Kalk Bay.
Solo show of oil paintings.
1999 Oct AIR, Oude Moulen, Cape Town.
Group exhibition curated by Angela Mac Pherson.
1997 May Volkskas Atelier Awards Exhibition, Bloemfontein.
1997 March/April EurovirusB4/97, Carfax Gallery, Johannesburg.
A group show curated by James de Villiers, including Wayne Barker, Karl Gietl, Gordon Froud, Diane Victor, CJ Morkel and Tony Scullion.
1996 Operation Hairy Armpit, Guerrilla Sculptural Installation, George Harrison Statue outside Eastgate Mall, Johannesburg.