Angle on Artist – Karen Stahlecker, Paper Sculptor


 The Last Stand, handmade paper

Here is our next wonderful artist in our Angle on Artists series.

Karen Stahlecker is an environmental artist who lives and works in Poulsbo, Washington. She was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1954 and received an M.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1982. Over the last twenty years, she has exhibited paper sculptures in Canada, Europe, and the United States. Her artwork often takes the form of books and shaped sculpture and investigates relationships between humans and their natural environment.

Currently, Stahlecker resides in Alaska. She has studied paper making in Switzerland, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Czechoslovakia, the Netherlands, and Japan. Handmade paper is Stahlecker’s medium of choice. The process she uses derives from Japanese tradition. Bast fibers: kozo, mitsumata, and gampi, are prepared by hand and made into pulp.



Karen Stahlecker Wreckage II, 1990 handmade paper, wood, steel, mixed media
10′ high x 8′ wide x 14′ long, photograph -Peter Winandy
commissioned by Leopold-Hoesch-Museum, Düren, Germany for III Internationale Der Papierkunst, Paper As Knowlege, 1990
© Karen Stahlecker

This mixed media sculpture , The Wreckage II explores the devastating environmental effects of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Stahlecker points out, “Since 1986, I have lived and worked as an artist in Alaska. This is a frontier and the wilderness up here is vast, humbling and inspiring in a way I’ve rarely experienced elsewhere. One can experience nature which is pristine and as yet untouched by humans. But greed and shortsightedness abound. The great oil spill here in March, 1989, was a holocaust to life in the Prince William Sound, yet this is just another manifestation of the serious dangers that humans pose to the earth.”

She not only works in paper, but also creates wonderful jewelry which you can see on her blog, WillOaks Studio.