here, is the Place

Karey Kessler

About Karey Kessler

Karey Kessler received her BA in Anthropology and Fine Arts from the University of Pennsylvania and her MFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. She is a member of Shift Gallery in Seattle and has artwork in the flat files of the Pierogi Gallery (New York City). Her work is included in the books: The Map as Art by Kitty Harmon (Princeton Architectural Press, 2009), and From Here to There: A Curious Collection From the Hand Drawn Map Association (Princeton Architectural Press, 2010) and Le Paysage est une traverse, by Gilles Tiberghien, (Editions Parentheses, 2020).In 2020, her work was selected for the exhibit, Time Sensitive, at the Broto: Art-Climate-Science convention in Provincetown, MA. In 2019 she participated in the SciArt Initiative Bridge Residency. She has shown her work widely, including exhibits at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts Museum (PA), the Weatherspoon Art Museum (NC), the Tacoma Art Museum (WA), and most recently at the Bellevue Art Museum (WA). From 2018-2020 Kessler had a temporary public art piece in Seattle titled, A Path of Wonderment and Connection. She currently has an installation, there once was WILDERNESS here, on the Tollbooth Gallery in Tacoma, WA.

About here, is the Place

I use watercolor, stencils, stamps and freehand writing to create maps that create a bridge between spiritual places and physical locations, science and Kabbalah. I am interested in the intersection of the current environmental crisis of climate change and the ancient stories of Judaism, Jewish mysticism, and even the high holiday liturgy.I think a lot about Hebrew words such as Makom which means Place, and Shmita, which is the sabbath year for the land – when the land is left to rest, and l’dor v’dor meaning from generation to generation. These are words used in the Jewish tradition that emphasize that we are caretakers of the earth; the earth is precious and precarious, and we need to honor and sustain it for future generations.This piece titled, here is the Place, explores the fact that the Hebrew word for ‘the Place,’ ha-Makom, is also used as a name for God. And, in the bottom right-hand corner of the map it says, “remember, even the fields need to rest” — I was specifically thinking about the shmita year.There is real ecological grief for the environmental changes happening around us but my map also tells a story of hope and repair and possibility. We can pivot our behaviors and embrace ideas such as shmita — and see that the decisions we make as individuals, as families, and especially as governments all affect the story that we are creating together about how we care for the earth and for each other. We live in a world that is mapped all the way from outer space right down to our front doors. I create maps that subvert our sense of knowing exactly where we are and instead reflect upon why we are here and what we can do to make the world a better place.