What made you want to join the Board?
I had been a member of Arts Network Ottawa (AOE at the time) for a number of years and was approached to consider joining the Board because, at that time, there were no artists represented on the Board. The Directors wisely felt it was important that artists had Board-level input. I was already volunteering for the organization, in various ways whenever needed, but the person who approached me was able to convince me that my voice was needed on the Board. I have always felt that if I am going to be a member of an organization, I should be an active member in the literal sense and serve however I can. At that time, Anik Bouvrette, of Tara Luz Danse and I were both unanimously elected to the Board of Directors.
Do you have anything to say to future or prospective Board members?
Just jump on board! (sorry, couldn’t resist). When I was a new member on the Board, I came into the board room thinking I knew all the things Arts Network does for artists. I already had a deep respect for our staff and the support they give to artists and to me personally as a visual artist. In the opening minutes of my very first meeting, I realized my knowledge barely scratched the surface. So, if anything, your time as a Board member teaches you the depth of the important work that our staff and the Board does to be an advocate for artists of all disciplines and for a vibrant arts community.
How has being a member of this Board affected your artistic career?
Hmmm, interesting question. I don’t think being a member of the Board has necessarily enhanced my artistic career but then I did not become a Director with the intention that my time on the Board would be an avenue to push forward my personal career in the arts. Did it give me opportunities to meet people in and outside of the arts community that I may otherwise have never met? Certainly. Has it made me perhaps a bit more visible in the arts community? Without a doubt. But each of those occasions also taught me how to be an active member of the arts community beyond working solitarily in the studio creating art and seeking exhibition opportunities. That all said, I can say that an opportunity came from my first few years on the Board that I would never have dreamed of. After meeting Anik Bouvrette, Artistic and Executive Director of Tara Luz Danse, we have collaborated over the past couple years on a few set designs for their performances and I have done some costume work as well. I love working with them and hope we can continue to do so.
What are some personal highlights from your time being on the Board?
Again, having my eyes opened to the amazing amount of work our dedicated staff does on behalf of our artists on a daily basis. Working along-side the other directors who came to the table with incredible and varied skills and insights, as well as their love for the arts. Being given the opportunity to meet some of our artist members at their performances or vernissages.
What do you wish for the Board to achieve/keep striving for now that you’ve retired?
I guess I don’t think of it as retirement! I served two three-year terms and according to the bylaws cannot serve another consecutive term but I have reminded the Board that whenever they need volunteers, to be sure to contact me. That said, I hope the Board retains the heart of service to artists and the arts community that has been Arts Network Ottawa’s legacy. That they will continue to put our artist members first by building on their strong voice of advocacy and by seeking opportunities for artists to showcase their talents throughout the communities of the Ottawa Valley.
What’s next for you and your artistic career?
Well…I will continue to make the studio a priority. For the last couple years my work has moved to more abstraction. It has been freeing and I have found of level confidence about my work that I have not always experienced in the past. So now, with a new body of work developing, on the business end of things I have made about a dozen or so exhibition proposals and gallery submissions so far this year and am waiting to hear back. If you’d like to find out along with me what will be next you can sign up for my monthly email. Just go to the contact page in my website and send me an email requesting to be put on my mailing list.
For more information about Karen and her work, please visit: