EARTHWORKS / INSTALLATIONS:
The Voice of the Earth
Solo exhibition with installation of volcanic ash, earth, metal signs and hanging plant materials.
Common Ground: An Exploration of the Space Between Contrasting Viewpoints
Solo exhibition with installation of two tons of earth in roofless building which used to be an ice house, metal signs,
Soundscape in collaboration with Bruce Licher.
Ice House, Phoenix, AZ.
Evidence of Change
Solo exhibition with installation of progressive selections of earth excavated from the construction route of an expanding highway. Also: bulldozer parts, metal leaf.
Arte-Misia Gallery, Sedona, AZ.
Suspension of Disbelief
Installation in collaboration with musician Bruce Licher, and artists Clare Helfrich Licher, and William Faircloth,
The floor of a darkened room is completely covered with earth, several sage bushes are suspended in mid air and lit from below. A maximum of three people are admitted to the space at a time. They follow a path through the bushes to a deeply colored red tent which is illuminated from within. Inside they find a suspended mirror on which is balanced a bed of arctic sand which cradles a single spot-lit pearl.
Soundscape created by Karen Nielsen Licher and Bruce Licher.
New Territory Artspace, Sedona, AZ.
Unexplored Territory: Common Ground
Solo exhibition: nstallation of four mats with four tones of earth, presented with metal stands and signs. Wall paintings elaborate on the concepts of the signs: Sacred/Exploitable, Private/Publc. Promised/ Forbidden, Finite/Infinite.
Select Art Gallery, Sedona, AZ.
The Lunar Power of the Waters: Sedona Flood Story
Solo exhibition of conceptual installation, painting and sculpture. Accompanying a winding line of creek stones, debris from wreckage from destroyed homes worked into sculpture and wall works.
The Sedona Arts Center, Sedona, AZ.
Exhibition nvitations included a letterpress art print edition produced by Karen Nielsen Licher at Independent Project Press.
Earth Day 1992 - As Above, So Below
Collaborative earthwork project, East Mojave Desert, CA.
Six artists create an earthwork: Karen Nielsen Licher, Bruce Licher, Kristin Bell, Henry Solis, Barry Craig, Deanne Belinoff.
The subject matter selected by the group of artists was the dilemma around the growing hole in the Earth's ozone layer. The group chose Greenpeace as the recipient of the proceeds generated from the creation of collaborative letterpress prints documenting .
Project commemorated by a letterpress art print edition produced by Independent Project Press.
Collaborations with Nature
5 person exhibition, curated by Karen Nielsen Licher
Merging One Gallery,Santa Monica, California.
Detail from Calendar, Karen Nielsen Licher's sculpture from Collaborations with Nature, Merging One Gallery, Santa Monica, California, 1990.
Earth Day 1990 - Mojave Earthwork
Collaborative earthwork project, East Mojave Desert, CA.
Seven artists create multitudes of ephemeral earthworks on Kelso Dune in the East Mojave Desert:
Kristin Bell, Nick Gadbois, Bruce Licher, Karen Nielsen Licher, Victoria Marino, Luis Sampaio, Daniel Voznick.
Walking an Acre in a Climate of Change: Artists create a series of ephemeral earthworks relating to the destruction of rain forests in South America. The group choses The Nature Conservancy as the recipient of the proceeds generated from sales of the collaborative letterpress prints documenting the earthwork.
Project commemorated by letterpress art print edition produced by Independent Project Press
2019 Karen Nielsen Licher, Ceramic Sculpture and Interactive Labyrinth Installation, Pop-up gallery in abandoned Main Street Storefront, Annual Downtown Bishop Chocolate Art Walk, Bishop, CA.
2018 Karen Nielsen Licher: Sculpture and Interactive Labyrinth Installation, Annual Downtown Bishop Chocolate Art Walk, Bishop, CA.
2016 Karen Nielsen Licher: The Voice of the Earth, solo exhibition at Cerro Coso Art Gallery, Ridgecrest, CA.
2015 FLOW: The Architecture of Elemental Events: Photography by Joe Profita and painting and photography by
Karen Nielsen Licher, The Project Room at Independent Project Press, Bishop, CA.
2004 Common Ground: An Exploration of the Space Between Contrasting Viewpoints, The Ice House, Phoenix, AZ.
2003 Progress and Evolution, Arte-Misia Gallery, Sedona, AZ.
2002 Gallery Artists: Small Works, annual group exhibition, Ruth Bachofner Gallery, Santa Monica, CA.
The Enduring Silence: Impressions of Monument Valley and Valley of the Gods, Arte-Misia Gallery, Sedona, AZ.
2001 Evidence of Change, solo exhibition, Arte-Misia Gallery, Sedona, AZ.
2000 Sedona’s Daughters: Women Artists of Sedona, Sedona Arts Center, Sedona, AZ.
1999 Two Views of the Enduring Character of the Earth: The Paintings of Karen Licher and the Photography of Bruce Licher,
Imagine Art, Sedona, AZ.
1998 Small Works, group exhibition, The Select Art Gallery, Sedona, AZ.
Out of Character: Entering New Territory, group exhibition, New Territory Artspace, Sedona, AZ.
1997 Small Works: Small Parts, The Select Art Gallery, Sedona, AZ.
1996 Elements, Karen Licher, Howard Hersh and Dennis Elliott, The Select Art Gallery, Sedona, AZ.
1995 The Lunar Power of The Waters: Sedona Flood Story, solo exhibition, Sedona Arts Center, Sedona, AZ.
1993 Small Works, group exhibition, Merging One Gallery, Santa Monica, CA.
1992 Landmarks: Collaborations With Nature, group exhibition, Merging One Gallery, Santa Monica, CA.
Earth Day Annual, group exhibition, Union Gallery, University of Arizona, Tuscon, AZ.
Reflections of Working Women, group exhibition, City Hall Rotunda and Bridge Gallery, Los Angeles, CA.
1989 Kyung Soo Lee, Karen Licher, Janet Mckaig, LA Artcore, Los Angeles, CA.
1988 Entrance: Site-specific Works for the Hall, group exhibition, The Hallway Gallery, Los Angeles, CA.
Gallery Artists, group exhibition, New Salon Contemporary Fine Arts, Venice, CA.
1985 Offramp, group exhibition, West End Gallery, Angel's Gate Cultural Center, San Pedro, CA.
An Ort Festival, group exhibition, Oranges and Sardines Gallery, Los Angeles, CA.
1984 The Cotton Exchange, group exhibition, LACE Gallery, Los Angeles, CA.
Blue Square Collective, group exhibition, LAPA Gallery, Venice, CA.
Co-Owner/Director/Curator, The Project Room, fine art gallery in Bishop, California.
Co-Owner/Director/instructor, Independent Project Press,
letterpress printshop in Bishop, California.
BA with Cum Laude Honors in Painting, Sculpture and Graphic Arts, UCLA, 1981.
Arizona Commission on the Arts and the City of Sedona Art in Public Places Program sponsorship
forsolo exhibition, "The Lunar Power of the Waters: Sedona Flood Story," 1995.
CORP0RATE AND PUBLIC ART COLLECTIONS:
The City of Sedona Public Art Collection, Sedona, AZ
Hyatt Regency, Chicago, IL
Design Group Architects, Sedona, AZ
E y e o n I n y o A r t i s t s : K a r e n L i c h e r
By Chris Langley
The Inyo Register, May, 2017
Contemporary art creates with a myriad of forms, formats, materials, and amalgams. Collaborations of individual artists working in concert are rare. Art that is accessible to a lay audience is pleasing, engaging, and yet still mysterious in its straightforward intelligibility. To discover the work of Karen Nielsen Licher and Bruce Licher, a couple who follow their unique artist’s quests yet often also collaborate here in Bishop, is a distinct surprise and pleasure.
If you haven’t visited them at their Independent Project Press or Project Gallery on Willow Street, you need to take some personal time and do so. You won’t regret it. Whether painting, photography, the independent music scene, graphic arts, or many other unique practices, this couple are constantly amazing in both their startling expression of personal vision and also their creative response to the arid landscape in which they live.
Their story begins at UCLA where they met as art undergraduates. Karen studied painting, photography, sculpture, and printmaking, graduating with a BA in fine arts in 1981. Born in Los Angeles, Bruce also studied fine arts at UCLA. He then became a musician, artist, graphic designer, and letterpress printer. He met other experimental music-inclined students, and created his first “art record” during an ‘Independent Project” course with performance artist Chris Burden in early 1980. Together the Lichers explored, contributed to, and participated in the exciting southern California art scene until they moved to Sedona, Arizona in 1992.
In the 1980's Karen explored minimalism, abstraction, and gesture. Her bio states, “Through these explorations she discovered that the corporeal earth brought a powerful and meaningful dimension to her art. This aspect in her art has only grown since the couple moved to the Eastern Sierra aft‘er seventeen years in Northern Arizona. The strengthening, maturing, and confidence in her work was obvious in her exhibit entitled “The Voice of the Earth” at the Cerro Coso Art Gallery in Ridgecrest. It closed this Fall 2016 after an extended run. The exhibit was subtitled “A Conversation about Spirit, Matter and Time.”
Sitting quietly in The Independent Press location, Karen is calm. Yet a kind of internal elation grows in her voice as she speaks of her work with the earth. She recites the motto of her recent work: ”What would the earth say to us if we’re listening?” She continues, “This work explores the language of gesture and symbolism which I feel is the vocabulary of the earth.” Here exploring and working, often out in the Eastern Sierra landscape, Karen reflects, “This region is particularly compelling as it is one of the most geologically young and tectonically active areas in North America. Because of this my work evokes a sense of transcendent reality that is free of dogma.”
Karen also had an exhibit with another Bishop artist, photographer Joe Profita in 2015 at the Project Room. Karen comments about this show and portfolio of work, calling it an “Ongoing digital photography series of water in motion. This series began in 2005 as I found I needed to spend more time with my elderly mother. I looked for ways to achieve a painterly expression through the medium of digital photography. ” (Note: By the way, most of the portfolios of work mentioned here can be found at or at the Project Room website
Karen states, “There is the inevitable polarization of the sacred and the exploitable which is something which needs to be transcended. There is the inherent connectedness of extreme points of view.” The artist speaks philosophically, attempting to illuminate her work with the earth by which she hopes to re-sanctify the soil, material and surface of the home planet. She says her work is informed by her connection with the substance (energy of nature) working with natural materials in an experimental manner.
Her process is very straightforward, revolutionary in its simplicity. “I collect earth, found materials and images from the landscape and bring them into a gallery setting, either as paintings on canvas, photographs, or materials in installations. I love working with these natural materials in an experimental manner, to see if I can find a new way to express our communality with all of nature. Since our human experience is so intrinsically dependent on all of these elements: the earth, the fire, the water and the air, it makes sense to me to perceive the planet we inhabit as a kindred spirit.”
“Gestures of Earth” is a series she actually began in 1980, but it remains creatively alive, inspired by working with the Owens Valley landscape. She calls the style with which she works: “ge¿stural abstraction.” The paintings are textural in nature and combine samples of earth and soil she has found in the Owens Valley landscape with paint on canvas. The effect is one of ideas of the earth, of the ever-changing landscapes around us, and its effect on our consciousness, thinking, and feeling. She says, “The light reflectivity of these works varies over the surface of the painting: the earthen, textured areas absorb more light than the glazed canvas areas.”
The paintings when gathered together or seen in conjunction with others of the series are informed by the colors of the actual land. In the Cerro Coso installation the desert lands were there and yet abstracted as perceptions and ideas about them. For me it was as if they were allowed to communicate their nature, their feelings, balanced with skeletal remains of bushes and plant. The land was now seen clearly and unimpeded, their nature more accessible in abstraction than perhaps when confronted outdoors. But then the understanding, new perceptions, and apprehension of the earth informs your next experience out in the landscape. You see better, clearer and the clarity allows you to see beneath earth forms.
The paints swirl, dance and lift from the surface. The soundscape created by Bruce and Karen together only brings in another sense working in parallel ways to support visual perception. But the paintings also speak of primordial and mythological tropes indicated by some of the titles. “Incarnation of the feminine force” is an earth force that echoes back to Greek and Roman goddesses now engaged in psychological archetypes. “in flight,” “Equilibrium,” and “The Beginning,” all carry psychological or philosophical concepts turned into tactile and visual realizations. They take on an ineffable, transformational nature that stimulates some kind of inner knowing that we all carry with us, but seldom resort to.
A mandala of sign¡s resides in the center of this Ridgecrest installation. The words are both evocative of our arid lands and challenging to our deeper minds and to the future of the deserts Karen intuits. These verbal concepts circle by standing stolid and impassive. SACRED-EXPLOITABLE, PUBLIC-PRIVATE, FINITE-INFINITE, PROMISED-FORBIDDEN.
They also remind me of Karen’s adventuresome spirit, constantly exploring energy, the feminine, and landscape. Her mind is hungry and we skip from scalar waves to other provocative energy forms easily in our conversation.
Her works become more complex and yet accessible, complicated yet straightforward. In the period of the several interviews. Her passion burns blue and strong at times, and yet the spectator somehow is reassured in her confident hands, and fecund vision. With her husband often at her side, something very special is happening on Willow Street in Bishop.
S E L E C T E D P R E S S
2017 Langley, Chris, Eye on Inyo Artists: Karen Licher, The Inyo Register, Bishop, California, pg. 11.
2016 Rae, Sara and Giles, Abagael, "Lichers Bring the Hip to Bishop," the Sheet, Mammoth Lakes,
California, May 14th, 2016, pg. 1, 12, and 17.
"Voice of the Earth" Paintings, Photographs and Installation by Karen Nielsen Licher,
Daily Independent, April 27, 2016,
2005 McNeill, Joe, “Artist Portfolio: Karen Licher,” Sedona Monthly, March 2005.
2004 Abrams, Amy, “Desperately Seeking Sedona,” Desert Living, November-December, 2004.
Leatherman, Benjamin, “Dalai House,” Phoenix New Times, December 9-15, 2004.
2002 Adams, Sue, “Hillside’s Tour d’Art,” The Red Rock Review, September - October, 2002.
Broscheid, James, “Evoking A Transcendent Reality,” Artbook of The New West, Spring 2002, pg. 58.
Shelton, Kelly, “Enduring Silence,” Kudos, March 13, 2002.
2001 Dunst, Nancy Robb, “Artscope - Inside The Arts,” Sedona Red Rock News, November 9th, 2001, pg. 8A.
1999 Cheek, Lawrence W., Sedona Calling, p.29.
Fishel, Catharine, "Independent Project Press Project," Paper Graphics, pg. 153.
1998 Bishop, James, "Sedona Artists Enter New Territory," Red Rock News, Sedona, AZ, October 23, 1998.
1997 Negri, Sam, "Redeemed Art," Art Life, AZ, Vol. 2, 1997-1998.
Swallow, Adrienne, "Interview: Licher," Sedona Spectrum, Sedona, AZ, February, 1997, p.12.
1995 Rinehart, Betty, "Red Rock Test, New Times, Phoenix, AZ, September 21-27, 1995, pp.67-68.
Allen, Hayward, "Licher Creates Beauty from Chaos," Red Rock News, Sedona, AZ, February 10, 1995.
1994 Traylor, Janet, "Multiple Impressions," Step by Step Graphics, May/June, 1994, pg..82-89.
1992 Lowe, Charlotte, "Earth Artists in Full Bloom at UA," The Citizen, Tucson, AZ, April 30 1992.
Lazzari, Margaret, "Landmarks, Collaborations With Nature," Visions Quarterly, Fall 1992.
1988 Butler, Kateri, "Hall of Frame," L.A. Weekly, November 18-24, 1988.