KAREN HOCHMAN BROWN makes mandala-like works that begin with photographs that she then spins and adorns into digital prints mounted on aluminum. Layer upon layer of detail come together to make one image. She meticulously alters light and shadow to create an illusion of depth. In many cases, dots are added for emphasis and direction.
As a child in her mother’s garden, Hochman Brown recalls how flashes of color and light danced as she held her first kaleidoscope up to one eye, closed the other, found a source of light, and the rest of the world disappeared while she endlessly turned.
“My kaleidoscopic fascination goes back to my childhood days. I take a simple tube of cardboard and mirror. I look with one eye and then close the other. There is nothing else but the reflected light; the world goes away.
I personally get great satisfaction spinning my digital kaleidoscope, making the bits that I put together to make an entire piece. But the real fun is weaving the many kaleidoscopic layers of my art into a single image. I want the finished piece to hold a cohesive kind of energy and balance. I play with shading to make the layers interact with depth. As a result, I want the viewer to be drawn into the singular world encased in the artwork.”
She uses light to transform broken bits of colored glass into symmetrical rays. In some works, identical triangles recede and create vibrant and sometimes momentary, fragile patterns. Precision is always required. From one of her photographs, the artist pulls out metaphorical “broken bits of glass” and turns these into her own kaleidoscopic imagery—spinning, nudging, and shifting these flecks of light, and becoming “lost in the endless dance of color, light and shape.”
“Most recently, I had an artwork proposal selected for inclusion in the LA Metro’s public art program “Through the Eyes of Artists.” The piece, entitled “Peacock and Aloe Ride the Rails,” had its inspiration at The LA County Arboretum.
It is through my connections to the Jewish community that I owe my greatest successes. My friend Nancy Carlton, whom I know from involvement in the PJTC Sisterhood, put forward my name to create a gallery show of my kaleidoscopic floral artwork in the Arboretum’s newly renovated library. During the six months of the exhibition, I would begin the morning by taking photographs around the property. Then I set up my computer inside the gallery space and created a new artwork that same day.”
It is through this artist-in-residency that I drew the attention of the LA Metro’s public art program “Through the Eyes of Artists.” This year, their ‘travel posters’ honor LA County Parks that are easily accessible by Metro, one of which is the Arboretum. And my artwork has been selected! Sometime in the next year, my work will be displayed for 2-3 months inside buses and trains as a poster recommending you take the Metro to The LA County Arboretum.
Hochman Brown had found her passion for art in her early primary school years. In high school she discovered geometry and did not hesitate to fuse mathematics with her artwork, exploring intersecting circles and patterns. To the artist, there was a distinct and immediate marriage of mathematical precision and aesthetic beauty.
“I have always been an artist. My grandmother took me to art classes. I almost lived in the art room at my school. My first ‘job’ was selling my hand painted cards and beaded jewelry in the lobby of our family’s hotel. I learned to crochet and to solder silver. I studied art in college and got an art teaching credential. Turns out I don’t like teaching, but I still like art!
While raising a family, I did computer -based graphic design. I’m not sure I liked that one either. But all the time, I was always crafting and creating art of some sort. I began to find beautifully sophisticated computer art software to use as a tool (to play with) and started producing some very gratifying artworks, things that I really wanted to share with others.”
For more information on the artist and her work please visit, www.hochmanbrown.com.
Tanya Schwied graduated from New York University, studied abroad in Israel, and is a contributing writer to Jlife magazine.