Karen Bondarchuk

Painter, Sculptor, & Printmaker

Over the past several years, my work has centered on corvids, mainly ravens and crows, and the intertwined relationship between these highly intelligent birds and humans. Species-specific intelligence is often overlooked, misunderstood or disregarded, and the work I create celebrates it and the interplay – at times humorous, often fraught – that exists between us and other species.

Nobelist J.M. Coetzee, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, philosopher and bioethicist Peter Singer, essayist Barry Lopez and animal science expert Temple Grandin, among many others, have contributed to ongoing discussions around animal consciousness with each advocating a different but parallel rethinking of our traditional separation of human and beast. I would venture to say that none of this thinking – mine or anyone else’s – could have happened without Charles Darwin. In his notebook from 1830, Darwin wrote the words, “I think” above a simple line drawing of a branching tree – an early visualization of the tree of life, which led to his theory of evolution. I am struck by the fact that this humble drawing and phrase came to signify some of the most important ideas in the history of humankind. In brief, I am ever inspired by the Darwinian notion that difference in human and animal intelligence is a matter of degree and not kind.

Karen Bondarchuk, a Canadian visual artist living and working in the United States, employs a broad range of materials and processes in her work. She has exhibited widely in the United States, as well as in Canada, England, France, Italy and India, and has completed residencies in Austria, France, Virginia, Vermont and Illinois. Her work has received honors and awards in New York, Virginia, Michigan, Illinois and Maryland and is in the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Canada, the Woodson Art Museum and several other public and private collections. She has been named the 2016 Master Artist at the Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, WI. Bondarchuk received her MFA in sculpture from The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, and her BFA in sculpture and video from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) in Halifax, Canada. She is a professor and foundation coordinator in the Frostic School of Art at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI.