Karen Hackenberg

“Even though I don’t paint images of animals, underneath my art is my avid concern for our wildlife.”

Growing up in a rural coastal town in Connecticut, Karen Hackenberg has always had an innate experiential closeness with nature and wildlife, and she remembers the first Earth Day celebration while she was still in high school in 1970. Karen received her BFA in painting from the Rhode Island School of Design, and she explored many avenues of creative expression before finding her authentic artistic voice. While painting traditional landscapes, she consistently found herself gravitating toward wildlife and environmental themes. Landscape paintings didn’t provide the narrative for her passion for the life force of wild animals. 

She has discovered that depicting plastic in a scenic landscape does.

Karen’s work takes a lighthearted, ironic approach to plastic pollution. While working with traditional painting mediums, such as oil and gouache to name a few, she crafts images of beach trash that she finds below her studio in Port Townsend. Plastic toy animals, plastic bottles, and product packages are meticulously weaved into her landscape paintings to portray man’s despoilment. Underneath her art, which she describes as a kind of “dark humor,” is her love for nature and her overwhelming concern for wildlife. 

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