international drawing annual 5 exhibition-in-print
online resource

Karen Bondarchuk
Kalamazoo, Michigan

Western Michigan University, Assistant Professor

pages 59-60


In his book titled In the Company of Crows and Ravens, John Marzluff posits the notion that crows and humans engage in a mutualism of existence, wherein each affects the behavior of the other. He expands on this idea of a "cultural co-evolution" between humans and crows throughout the book, and it is on this premise that I am exploring these remarkable birds.

Drawing with charcoal evokes the nature of a corvid: smudgy, raw, bold and black. By working reductively, the process is more of a drawing out than drawing in that the forms emerge from the darkness of the material in layered erasure lines.

The large charcoal portraits in this series of work˜mostly ravens˜are scaled with the intention of creating a meeting of minds or reciprocity: in as much as we are contemplating them, they seem to be equally contemplating us. The stark, high contrast and large scale also demands our attention and consideration (as birds in the corvid family˜crows, blue jays, magpies, jackdaws, ravens, etc.˜so often do), while the emphasis on individuality and personality with each portrait challenges the generalities we may have regarding what a raven is. With these drawings, I have attempted to capture a sense of the majesty that is manifest in royal portraiture, along with a psychological depth˜Holbien‚s portrait of Sir Thomas More and Edward S. Curtis‚s Native American and First Nations portraits have been a considerable influence in this regard.

The crows and ravens in this series are ultimately and inevitably surrogates for human presences. The intelligence, adaptability, humor, annoyance, unpredictability, persistence, mimicry, resourcefulness and deviousness of these birds, to mention but a few of their traits, rival the breadth of our human capacities, calling into question whether those qualities truly separate us from them in kind, or simply in magnitude.



born:1964, Newmarket, Canada


Ohio State University, MFA, 1995
NSCAD University, BFA, 1989

selected awards/honors

Artists Fellowship, Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT, 2009
Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo Individual Artist Grant, Kalamazoo, MI, 2009
FRACASF Grant for research in London, England and Paris, France, Western Michigan University, 2008
People's Choice Award, Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Kalamazoo, MI, 2007

selected publications

William and Mary Review, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA:Volume 46, p.5, 2008
Off the Norm, Exhibition Catalogue, Museum London, London, ON: p. 12-13
Bradley International 32, Print and Drawing Exhibition, Bradley University, Peoria, IL: p. 32
International Drawing Annual 2007, Manifest Gallery, Cincinnati, OH: p. 41-43

selected solo or two-person exhibits

Woman Made Gallery, Crow Magnus,Chicago, IL  2010
Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo, Speak, Memory, Kalamazoo, MI 2009

selected group shows

Sculpture NOW 2010, Edison Place Gallery, Washington, DC 2010
Material Afterlife, UICA (Urban Institute for Contemporary Art, Grand Rapids, MI 2009
After the Pedestal, Juried Exhibition, Sculpture Center, Cleveland, OH 2009
23rd Annual Tallahassee International, FSU Museum of Fine Arts, Tallahassee, FL 2008


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