Feeling like she was never good at art, Karen Dimit started her career as an opera singer. Yet when the perfect stone sang to her, she decided to begin chiseling her outlook on the dualities of life.
“I physically felt something hit me in the gut and say ‘Karen, you’ve got to do something with me,’” she said. “I’d beg my father to bring home some stones that I found and put them in the garden. So I think I’ve always had a relationship to it and it’s the stones that called me back. Eventually it just took over.” After a visit to a sculpture supply store, this California native began her move into the artistic world. She went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and found that the African sculptures drew her into a domain of both art and purpose.
“They were done for a function in society, not just as a decoration, but they had a force in the society that they were used for,” she said. “They weren’t really necessarily polished or finished, they could be very rough, but they had this power that was imbued in them.”
Working on mosaics of the tragic masks of Pompeii, Dimit’s first sculpture took its form after September 11, 2001 and featured a mask depicting what she believed to be the reflection of how everyone was feeling.
“It was so perfect for the energy, getting out the frustration, fear and anger pounding into a stone,” she said.
After that, she was hooked.
Moving to a studio in Long Island City five years ago, Dimit began a series of pieces mixing different materials including stones, minerals, metals and mosaics. The main theme behind her works focuses on the dualities in the human condition, dealing with human strengths and weakness.
The “Subway Goddess Pageant” was a project in which Dimit created replicas of ancient powerful female figures in history through mosaics symbolizing the different aspects of the feminine.
“At a certain point in my life I realized that I thought of myself as a second-class citizen and I behaved that way,” she said. “I wanted to deal with my journey in trying to find my inner power from that and deal with the patriarchal religion and upbringing that I had.”
One of her pageant beauties, “Miss Cucuteni 2011” depicts on one half of the figure the colorful beauty of Mother Nature, yet on the other half, the colorful stones are replaced by coal and barbed wire showing the destruction of suppression and exploitation.
Pieces take between two weeks to one year to complete and each depicts life in the eyes of this sculptor and mosaic artist, who does not only mold the materials but works together with them to bring their inner beauty out.
“What’s most fun is that I’m so seduced by them. I let the stone tell me where it needs to go,” she said. “It takes a lot of time to find just the right thing, but then all of a sudden it starts working.”