"To me, every photograph is the result of an interactive process of image construction between the artist, camera and the final print. In these images I work in the tradition of hand painting on the photograph, which began in the mid-nineteenth century as a means of rendering the subjects more lifelike.
Transforming a black and white image to full color is an interpretive process. The color schemes are chosen according to mood and atmosphere within the photograph. The passage of time allows memory and emotion to enter into the interpretation. Color is a motif and strong aesthetic content in my work"
Karen Vournakis works out of her studio/gallery located in the heart of Charleston's historic district. She specializes in hand painted photography and mixed media art. By painstakingly hand coloring archival processed original gelatin silver prints, the artist transcend time and space by imposing the power of memory through the use of color and a classical design sensibility in her photographic images. With an avid interest in history, architecture and archaeology, she shoots her photographs in the environs of Charleston, South Carolina, Europe (Greece and Italy) and the Middle-East. She then re-interpets the original images in her studio by adding mixed media tint and color (photo oils, colored pencils and high quality art crayons) directly on the black and white print, to create a finished image which is a blend of photography and painting. All work is done by the artist in her Charleston studio and darkroom, including the processing of the film and the archival processing of fiber-base papers. Her large scale 30"x30" prints are truly painterly in impact: her small pieces are jewel-like. Regardless of size each hand painted print is a unique work of art.
Vournakis received a BFA in 1976 and an MFA Magna Cum Lauda from Syracuse University's College of Visual and Performing Arts in 1978 and a BA from Albion College, Albion, Michigan in 1966. She has taught photography at Syracuse University, Colgate University and Dartmouth College.
Her work is represented in the public collections of the Bibliotheque National, Paris, France; the Everson Museum, Syracuse, NY; the Erie Museum, Erie PA; the Picker Art Gallery, Colgate University, Hamilton NY and in private collections of Kidder Peabody & Co. Inc NY; Atlantic Mutural Co., Madison NJ, Fidelity Management & Research, Boston & London, The Bank of Woodstock, Woodstock VT and the Roper Hospital, Charleston SC.