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Meet Karen Lee Sobol, Artist and Author in South End Arts District

Today we’d like to introduce you to Karen Lee Sobol.

Karen Lee, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Always engaged with people and nature, I’ve always been aware of interactions among them. As a child, I understood air pollution when the Garden State Parkway sliced through my New Jersey hometown. Entranced by clouds moving as if by magic across a blue sky, I felt connected with them.

Although I painted my way through college, I chose the profession of architecture. Why not design large scale work that people could live in or work in and that would enhance the quality of their lives, I thought. For fourteen years, I practiced architecture in New York City and had the joy of working on projects in landmarks like the Chrysler Building, Rockefeller Center and Grand Central Terminal.

When that career had run its course, I had the good fortune to marry a graduate school classmate, move to Boston and raise our daughter. Shifting my focus to my environmental concerns, I volunteered at the New England Aquarium. With other volunteers, I created and taught Beach Teach to children in the Head Start Program. I also worked on global marine conservation issues. In 2001, I became serious about making art, and I became involved with the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

This brings us to where I am today–Life Is A Beautiful Place:  A Radical Collaboration.  This Childs Gallery exhibition merges my passion for painting and nature with my concern for our environment and our health.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I think we need to distinguish between a smooth road and a direct course. For me, there was neither. In 2005, just as my art career was about to take flight, there was a major bump in the road, a derailment really. An illness became my focus and I was in a fight for my life. Making art was impossible. Once I emerged from a brutal course of experimental cancer treatment and good health was restored, I felt compelled to share my story in the hope that my experience might be useful to others. My creative energy focused on writing and illustrating Twelve Weeks: An Artist’s Story of Cancer, Healing and Hope. I’m happy to tell you Twelve Weeks is helping save people’s lives around the globe.

To learn more, please visit

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Karen Lee Sobol, Artist and Author – what should we know?
“Life is a beautiful place.” Each moment holds magic. Staying alert and daydreaming, planning ahead and improvising, these are just some of the ways my mind, heart and energy move.

I go out to the world, roam and swim, interact and reflect. The more I look, listen and touch, the more I see, hear and feel. I take in my surroundings, I take mental snapshots. Then I paint. Or print or build.

With line, form and color, I reach into and record scenes and experiences that resonate with the familiar or the surreal and shift our awareness of them. Working in the parallel languages of the narrative and the abstract, I engage with my subjects and connect with the energies they hold. Media and messages generate animated or serene results, sometimes weaving together.

My process is tactile and rhythmic. I rely on feedback from the look, sound and feel of brush and paint, pen and ink, wire and cloth. I intuitively combine materials and techniques. As images and stories take shape and evolve, I engage in a creative dialogue with them. I invite you to the conversation.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
A fascinating question, as it assumes a singular quality or characteristic and it assumes success!

For me, the process is prismatic, with many facets, rainbows and thunder storms in the mix.

If I had to choose one overarching quality or characteristic, I would say it’s optimism. I literally see life through the old cliche: rose-colored glasses. As for success, it seems to emerge from staying committed to what truly matters to me — a healthy planet which supports healthy lives for us all and the sheer joy of creating something out of nothing. When the two passions merge and when others notice and respond, that’s success.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Childs Gallery

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