Artist/Illustrator, KAREN ANDERSON

Karen Anderson (1960-2004), artist/creator of GRACE & MANNERS was a passionate advocate of arts education, libraries as centers that build communities, and all expressions of human kindness. Her commitment to public service was cut short when she succumbed to Hughes/Antiphospholipid Syndrome.  Her life is an inspiration, and her vision, our focus.

 

Born a truly creative soul, Karen studied classical ballet in her youth before displaying an aptitude for the visual arts in her teens. She spent summers at The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, studied Visual Communication at The Art Institute of Atlanta after high school, and years later, studied with the Rhode Island School of Design's {RISD} Continuing Studies program.   

 

Upon Karen’s returned to Washington, DC from Atlanta, she worked as an Assistant Location Scout with an independent film/video producer before walking into a position as a Promotional Model in one of DC’s leading department stores. She started in this position representing cosmetic companies such as Estee’ Lauder, Shiseido, Christian Dior, Chanel, and Clinique, and within a year, she used her talent in the visual arts as a Makeup Artist position with these companies.  She continued working part-time as a Promotional Model representing time-honored designers such as Norma Kamali, Willi Smith, and Perry Ellis. She continued honing her illustrating skills by studying the works of her two favorite fashion illustrators, Joe Eula and Ruben Toledo, as well as the work of her favorite designers:  Thierry Mugler, Vivienne Westwood, Bella Freud, Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, and Isaac Mizrahi.  Karen celebrated these artisans and their universal contribution as "… humanitarians and custodians of beauty, brilliance, and glamour.”  This industry permeated all aspects of her work.

 

After many years in this industry, she returned to her roots in the performing art as a production assistant with the Children's Radio Theatre {a Corporation of Public Broadcasting project}. This opportunity led to a collaborative effort between DC Public Schools and The National Capitol Children's Museum where she created and facilitated a visual arts curriculum for a pilot program in selected elementary schools.  Here, she used her skills as a Visual Communicator to introduce problem solving capabilities and self-expression to children during their formative years in the hope of instilling skills for living a creative and inspired quality of life.

 

Within two years, the DC Public School System eliminated arts education from its curriculum, and she returned to the performing arts working regularly as a production assistant for both the Kennedy Center Honors Award and Christmas in Washington productions. In off seasons, Karen worked as a makeup artist for The Washington Opera Company and after three years as a full time makeup artist for the opera company, she turned her attention to public access television production. Her experiences in arts education led her to produce children's programming using local children in her productions to foster community support and serve as an incentive to broaden the impact of the arts in communities.  Within a few years, Karen was diagnosed and succumbed to the auto-immune deficiency disease, Hughes {Antiphosphoroslipid} Syndrome.

 

Karen never gave up one interest for another.  She sought to use her collective skillset in the visual and performing arts, arts education, and video production to make a difference in the community. Each of her creative interests merged and inspired the next one -- all of them working to serve the highest and greater common good.  She NEVER stopped drawing, sculpting, painting, and producing visual products.  Even during the challenges of her illness, she turned her concerns to philanthropy and patient advocacy. Grace & Manners works to complete her vision as a public servant working to make a social impact.

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