Karen Miranda Abel



Blue Mountains World Heritage Award 2017 | Artist Residency + Solo Exhibition | Australia

Nov 2017 and March 2018 | Very pleased to announce that I am the recipient of the 2017 Blue Mountains World Heritage Award. An initiative of the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, the international award supports an artist in creation of a new body of work in response to the ancient landscapes and unique ecology of Australia’s Greater Blue Mountains – a UNESCO World Heritage Area and one of the world’s most environmentally and historically significant locations. The prize is a 6-week artist residency at Bilpin International Ground for Creative Initiatives in Australia, Nov 2017, followed by a 6-week solo exhibition in March 2018 at the state-of-the-art Blue Mountains City Art Gallery, the largest visual art display museum in the region and a leading gallery in Australia.



Varley Art Gallery 2018 | Refuge Exhibition | Unionville, Ontario

May – September 2018 | Continuing my series of water installations, I will be creating a large-scale site-specific work for Refuge, May 19 to September 3, 2018, at the beautiful Varley Art Gallery in the historic village of Unionville, Ontario. For this exhibition, I will develop an installation that will speak to the gallery’s proximity to Toogood Pond and the Rouge River watershed.

Following Vernal Pool (2014), Riffle Pool Riffle (2014), and Desert Pool {If every desert was once a sea} (2016), this installation will be the fourth in a series of elemental works that reflect on water bodies as liminal spaces. Through this thematic concept of a “reflecting pool,” immersive, site-sensitive understandings of place and time are sought.



Art Spin | Along the Waterfront: Portage to Portlands | Toronto

July 16 2017 | Exhibiting a commissioned site-specific installation on Snake Island, Toronto Islands, for the 2017 Art Spin season Along the Waterfront: Portage to Portlands. **UPDATE** Due to the 2017 flooding of the Toronto Islands, this exhibition has been postponed to **July 2018**. Complete details to come.




Bilpin International Ground for Creative Initiatives | Australia

March + April 2017 | I will be travelling to Australia to produce an exhibition of new work as an artist-in-residence at Bilpin International Ground for Creative Initiatives. Located in the UNESCO World Heritage-designated Greater Blue Mountains in New South Wales, the residency will take place in a state-of-the-art solar-powered art facility situated on 8 acres of forest at the edge of Wollemi National Park.




Joya: Arte + Ecología | Spain

October 2016 | I will be travelling to Spain to produce a new site-responsive work as an artist-in-residence with Joya: arte + ecología. Based at Cortijada Los Gázquez, Joya: arte + ecología is an ‘off-grid’ arts-led field research center situated in an alpine desert in the heart of the Parque Natural Sierra María – Los Vélez, in the province of Almería.


Supported by the Ontario Arts Council




Nuit Blanche Toronto

***Extended exhibition until SATURDAY OCT 8 at 1pm***

October 2016 | I will be exhibiting Geogarden {a subterranean symphony in C} for Toronto’s city-wide Nuit Blanche event in the grand corridor of 401 Richmond, Toronto’s heritage-designated warehouse-turned arts and culture hub.

Part of Nuit Blanche Toronto – Built for Art: A Secret Garden
Saturday, October 1, 2016
6:57pm to 7:00am (sunset to sunrise)
401 Richmond Street West, Toronto

Extended exhibition until Saturday, October 8 at 1pm
401 Richmond is open to the public Monday – Friday 9am-7pm, Saturday 9am-6pm (closed Sunday)

PRESS: Now Magazine. In Photos: Nuit Blanche 2016. Tanja-Tiziana. 3 Oct 2016.


Geogarden {a subterranean symphony in C}

Salvaged violin and viola cases, alum crystals, cotton velvet

Recipient of the 2013 Ontario Association of Landscape Architects/GROUND Award, Geogarden is a large wall installation consisting of crystallized violin cases arranged in an organic composition. The interiors of over 20 salvaged instrument cases – some close to a century in age – were propagated with mineral salt crystals of the octahedral structure. The work considers the musicality of crystallization processes with reference to the ancient, oblong-shaped “cathedral geodes” formed in cavities inside volcanic rock. Creating the work required an intense 4-month studio practice during the winter of 2013 in which the artist grew the crystals on the restored velvet linings.

Supported by the Ontario Arts Council





Studio 835 | Toronto

As of May 2016, I am working out of Studio 835 on Bloor Street West in Toronto.



Vermont Studio Center | USA

Artist Residency in Johnson, Vermont, August 2015

Work in progress:
Gilded Boulder
Gold leaf, creek water
Gihon River, Johnson, VT










 Geophilia Artist Residency: Geology for Artists

Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia, July 2015
Ayatana Artistic Research Program




Hibernaculum © Karen Abel 2015

Karen Abel 2015
Cast sugar, salvaged chandelier parts, wire

BioART: Collaborating with Life

Curated by Dr. Jennifer Willet
Karen Abel, Alana Bartol, Philip Beesley, Robert Hengeveld, Johl Ringuette in a film by Cass Gardiner, Andrew Pelling, and Jennifer Willet

Presented by Artengine, INCUBATOR Lab, the City of Ottawa and the National Arts Centre’s Ontario Scene

VERNISSAGE Thursday, April 30, 2015 | 5:30-7:30pm

Karsh-Masson Gallery
110 Laurier Avenue West, Ottawa
April 28 to May 31, 2015
Gallery open daily 9-8pm

Press: CBC News. Living Art in Ottawa: Bio art on display at Karsh-Masson Gallery at City Hall is made with living things. 27 Apr 2015.





Sunday Drive Partners

SUNDAY DRIVE Presents Warkworth

I’m very pleased to be representing Toronto’s historic Gladstone Hotel at the inaugural exhibition of Sunday Drive, presenting contemporary art in a country setting in the beautiful village of Warkworth, Northumberland County.

Art in unexpected places – Sunday Drive Art Projects Presents Warkworth is a 16-day arts festival that exhibits the work of artists chosen by some of Toronto’s most active artist-run centres and collectives to present satellite exhibitions in a variety of venues, occupying vacant storefronts and unexpected spaces, transforming the village into a hub of contemporary art.

August 23 to September 7, 2014
Opening Day: Saturday, August 23, 2014, 3-10pm
Regular Hours: Wed to Sun 11-5pm
Location: Warkworth Mews, 27 Main Street, Warkworth
Visit the website for directions and complete info: sundaydrive.org

Tickets for the Sunday Drive Express Party Bus departing from downtown Toronto on Saturday, August 23 at 4pm are available here.

I will be present for the opening weekend (Aug 23 + 24). See below for information about the site-specific water installation that I will be creating in a refurbished barn by the local creek behind the Warkworth Mews.

Riffle Pool Riffle {Mill Creek} © Karen Abel 2014
Riffle Pool Riffle {Mill Creek)
Karen Abel
Creek water, salvaged glassware

Riffle Pool Riffle {Mill Creek}

Riffle, pool, riffle. These small, fluid words reference the sequence of water movement that constitutes the natural meander of a creek. Habitats for aquatic insects and coldwater fish species such as brook trout, riffles and pools are the anatomy of a stream – alternating aqueous formations that manifest as expanses of relatively shallow, turbulent water, to deeper, flat-surfaced pools in a hydrological flow structure.

In Riffle Pool Riffle {Mill Creek}, a view of Warkworth’s epochal creek visible from the windows of an old bank barn is transposed into the building’s interior. As if suspended in animation, a swath of evanescent water collected from Mill Creek is conjured across an aged wooden floor, offering an elemental ‘tableau vivant’ of aqueous movement – riffles and pools – rendered in stillness.

Mill Creek (alternately known as Burnley Creek) originates from the sandy uplands of the Oak Ridges Moraine, flowing south from Warkworth’s iconic Mill Pond at the site of the historic grist mill. A map of the former Percy Township in the 1878 Northumberland Atlas depicts the stream as the prevailing geographic feature of the settlement, delineating the core of the village, as it still does today.

Riffle Pool Riffle {Mill Creek} © Karen Abel 2014

Riffle Pool Riffle {Mill Creek} © Karen Abel 2014

Riffle Pool Riffle {Mill Creek} © Karen Abel 2014

Following the exhibition, the collected water will be returned to Mill Creek.









Thurs June 26 – Sun June 29, 2014
108 Vine Avenue, Toronto (north of Dundas, just west of Keele)

Opening Reception Thurs June 26 | 7pm-1am
The Art Spin bicycle tour joins the reception around 9:30pm

The Fifth Annual Art Spin Exhibition will take place in a vacant factory space on Vine Avenue in The Junction. This historical building housed the Canadian Rogers Eastern Limited architectural metalwork factory for over half a century beginning in the 1930s.

Exhibition Hours
Fri June 27 |12-7pm
Sat June 28 | 12-7pm
Sun June 29 | 12-6pm

Curated by Layne Hinton and Rui Pimenta



Vernal Pool © Karen Abel 2014

Vernal Pool, recipient of the 2014 Jury’s Choice Award and the Ontario Association of Landscape Architects/Ground Award


A participatory art project about place + precipitation

Visit the project gallery at www.vernal-pool.tumblr.com

Karen Abel with Jessica Marion Bar
Part of Grow Op: Exploring Landscape + Place
Curated by Landscape Architect Victoria Taylor
Thurs April 24 – Sunday April 27, 2014
Opening Reception Fri April 25 | 7-10pm
Thurs 1-6pm | Fri 11am-10pm | Sat 11am-7pm | Sun 11am-5pm
Gladstone Hotel
1214 Queen St West, Toronto

Referencing the ephemeral wetland ecosystems formed by melting snow and rainwater in springtime, Vernal Pool is an immersive, elemental installation of snowmelt gathered by participants from across Canada and abroad as a form of extrinsic artistic practice about place and precipitation. Like a confluence of spring runoff meandering to common ground, snow samples referencing geographically and perceptively distinct chronicles of one winter condense and meditatively pause at a seasonal meeting place, forming a temporary body of water – a kind of anthropological precipitation garden – in a gallery space.

Following the exhibition, the pool will be restored to the earth through a collective watering of gardens and urban greenspaces. On Sunday, April 27, 3-5pm, we invite visitors to take a jar of snowmelt to water urban gardens in the city.

Vernal Pool © Karen Abel 2014

Vernal Pool © Karen Abel 2014

Vernal Pool © Karen Abel 2014

Vernal Pool © Karen Abel 2014

Vernal Pool © Karen Abel 2014

Vernal Pool © Karen Abel 2014

Vernal Pool © Karen Abel 2014







October 5 -19 | 2013

Karen Abel
Jessica Marion Barr
Gareth Bate

Nuit Blanche Opening Oct 5 | 6:51pm to sunrise

Presented by:
Scotiabank Nuit Blanche + 401 Richmond Practice Practice – Built for ART

Gareth Bate Art Projects
Studio S-17 (lower level)
401 Richmond Street West, Toronto
Gallery Hours: Thurs to Sat | 12-6pm
Open Wednesdays by chance or appointment

Birds, bats, bees. Indicator species signal the deteriorated state of ecosystems, warning us when our environs are in trouble. Three elegiac installations investigate the concept of biological indicators and the suffering of wildlife due to habitat destruction, climate change, and environmental contamination. A rain cloud of bird bones and a chandelier inhabited by crystalline cast-sugar bats float in the gallery space, encircled by a ghostly amphitheatre-like wall mural of the ancient Roman Coliseum hand drawn with liquid honey. A sound installation layering the calls and sounds of these animals pervades the ecological arena. Visitors will be embedded and implicated in the disastrous results of the global incursion of human ‘empire’, as manifested in our ailing ‘indicator’ species.



GeoGarden {a subterranean symphony in C} © Karen Abel 2013

GeoGarden {a subterranean symphony in C}, recipient of the 2013 Ontario Association of Landscape Architects/Ground Award

Grow Op: Exploring Landscape and Place

In observation of Earth Day and Environment Month, I am participating in Grow Op: Exploring Landscape and Place at the Gladstone Hotel, April 25-28, 2013. I have grown mineral crystals for months in preparation for GeoGarden {a subterranean symphony in C}, a new immersive installation to be exhibited in room 212 of the second floor Gladstone Gallery. Featuring a soundscape by sonic landscapist and composer Rose Bolton. During the exhibition, Rose will present a live site-specific violin performance staged within GeoGarden on April 27 and 28 from 3-4pm. 1214 Queen Street West, Toronto. Curated by landscape architect Victoria Taylor. Opening reception Friday, April 26, 7-10pm. 


Art Never Sleeps Studio Pillow © Karen Abel 2012

Distill Gallery

My limited edition Art Never Sleeps Studio Pillow multiples are available at Distill Gallery in the Distillery District beginning January 2013. 24 Tank House Lane, Toronto. Open 11-6pm, Tuesday to Sunday.