Karen Kunc

Aqua Alta, 2011
Woodcut, mokuhanga woodcut, watercolor, acrylic, ink, wax on Japanese papers, 19.25 x 18.75 inches folded, 19.25 x 38 inches open, limp cover long-stitch binding of indigo Cave flax paper, with sanded title and ornament, edition of 5.

Animated life forms shift and combine for unusual inventions suggestive of science fiction and nature studies. Textual word play follows the movement across a rich red background. Relief printed etchings, with watercolor on Lana Cover paper, 13 pages, accordion folded, with wooden box container 3.25 x 5 inches folded; 3.25 x 70 inches unfolded. $1500

Reference, 2001
Unique bookwork: screen printing, ink and gouache on poplar wood, accordion sewn binding, handmade box. 7 x5 x1 inches. $3000

Charting, 2000
Unique bookwork: screen print, watercolor & acrylic on carved poplar wood pages, accordion sewn binding, handmade box, 7 x5 x2 inches folded, 7 x 20.5 inches unfolded. $3000


I am an artist who has found books to be a “fertile format.” I have used many book-making methods over the years in my own bookworks, some learned at workshops, other methods developed on my own or adapted. I often follow principles that recognize possibilities for display of the work, self-publication abilities, plus knowledge of book terminology, and print technology problems. I am an advocate for the “experiential nature” of artist’s books- that one experiences the work on many sensual and spatial levels.

Among the many reasons I make books is the recognition of the tactile qualities of work made for the hand, the control of pacing and the “reading/viewing” as an experience, an interest in story-telling, and strong, important historical and cultural associations.

For me, there is a love of materials as I make my book objects – an awareness of paper, ink, proportion, color, relationships, finish, detail, all parts to the whole, with evidence of craftsmanship; I am making an aesthetic object, even a beautiful one, as a carrier of important ideas.


Kunc is a Nebraska based artist who also works in New York, Italy, Colorado, and Helsinki. Her prints and artist books have been shown recently in solo exhibitions at: The Huntington Museum of Art; The Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Omaha; The Leedy Voulkos Art Center, Kansas City; Piano Nobile Gallery, Krakow, Poland; Davidson Galleries, Seattle. Her work has been included in numerous important group exhibitions, including: The Abstract Impulse, National Academy Museum, New York; 5th International Triennial of Graphic Art 2007, Prague, Czech Republic; Book as Art, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC; Sublime Present, Musashino Art University, Tokyo, Japan. Kunc’s works are represented in many public and private collections, including: the Museum of Modern Art (NY); the Library of Congress; the Smithsonian American Art Museum; Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha; Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon; Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University; Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas; Honolulu Academy of Art.

Karen Kunc was born in Omaha, Nebraska. She received her BFA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1975, and her MFA from Ohio State University in 1977. She is a Cather Professor of Art at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she has taught since 1983. Her recognitions include: the 2007 Printmaker Emeritus Award from the Southern Graphics Council; a Fulbright Scholar Award, 1996; Mid-America Arts Alliance/National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, 1996 & 1984; Nebraska Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship Master Award, 1992; Individual Artist Fellowship, Ohio Arts Council, 1982. She has taught numerous workshops around the world and served as a visiting artist to over 100 institutions. She has curated exhibitions of American art for Finland, France, Egypt, and frequently serves as a juror for national competitions.

Karen Kunc Website