Karen has worked as a digital product designer for companies such as Uber, Oracle, Wells Fargo, and numerous startups. In her down-time, she enjoys hiking and marveling at the stunning beauty in the natural world. Her art is a mash-up of these seemingly opposite worlds: the digital and the natural.

Karen uses rocks that she collects in the American West to make undulating forms that seem to float in space. She conceives of her sculptures as made up of points in a digital 3D model. The rocks and the making of the pieces serve as a nice counterpoint to sitting in front of a computer.  

She enjoys living in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The amazing light and natural beauty in the Land of Enchantment are a continuous source of creative inspiration.

Karen has an MFA in Sculpture from California College of the Arts and a BFA in Crafts from Virginia Commonwealth University. Her work is held in private, public, and corporate collections throughout the USA.

Karen Theisen

Artist Statement  

My work is a tribute to nature and its endless variety that is directly threatened by climate change. The river rocks that are the primary material in my sculptures are used in dry landscaping throughout the desert climate where I live. They provide beauty, texture, and ground cover in a place that has very little water. The decorative, sculptural rocks that substitute for grass and plants are a potent symbol of climate change. In addition, I strive to use sustainable materials like these since they have less environmental impact and are not manufactured.

The shapes of my sculptures mimic the hills and valleys where I love to hike. The titles of my pieces like Misty, Hazy, Wavy, Burst, and Swell, while referencing states of water, also hint at the sadness and profound loss associated with the destruction of our natural environment.

The empty space in the sculptures, the spaces between the rocks, are a key element of the pieces. They not only contribute to an optical illusion of the pieces floating in space, they also represent the loss of the natural world through disasters like droughts, fires, storms, and flooding caused by climate change that have become part of our everyday lives.  

I have worked as a digital product designer in hi-tech for many years. I fashion my sculpture as digital models in physical form -- each rock is a point defining a 3D skin.

My sculptures are a sort of biomorphic minimalism -- the slick seduction of technology seen in the perfection of 3D grids and saturated colors juxtaposed with the organic patterns in nature create tension and surprise the viewer.

The work speaks to what will endure, the rocks that are eternal and indestructible, while simultaneously asking how we will protect our most valuable resource, our natural world.


Karen Theisen
Karen Theisen
Karen Theisen