Queensland College of Art alumnus Karen Black has won this year’s prestigious Artbank + QPAC Commission – creatinga large-scale work on paper inspired by the grand passions, drama and tragedy of opera.

The work being commissioned is titled I gaze at you, I possess you translated from a love duet in Montiverdi’s ‘Coronation of Poppea’ and will be unveiled at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre later this year.

Coming full circle

Karen said the commission drew on years of experience as a costume designer for performing arts companies.

“I was the Head of Wardrobe for Opera Queensland and various theatre companies, so this commission is really bringing me full circle,” she said.

“It’s going to be fantastic having a work hanging in QPAC, because it holds great memories for me.

“It’s also going to be satisfying having some of my work exhibited here in Brisbane because although I’m a Queensland artist, most of my work is held in Sydney and Melbourne.”

Returning to study

A painter and ceramicist, Karencompleted a Bachelor of Fine Art at Griffith University in 2011.

“I arrived at Griffith as a mature-aged student, and it gave me a chance to really use a lot of the skills I’d picked up in my career,” she said.

“I really benefited from being mentored by the wonderful staff at the QCA, and working with my peers.

“It also allowed me to read widely and research and put my practice in a historical and conceptual context.”

Making her mark

Since graduating, Karen has made her mark in Australia’s contemporary art scene.Earlier this year she was commissioned to create a new body of work for the Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Award at Shepparton Art Museum. Karen was a 2017 Artspace One Year Studio Artist and has also made the semi-finals of this year’s prestigious Doug Moran Portrait Prize.

She has exhibited extensively in Australia and overseas, including Art Gallery of New South Wales, National Gallery of Victoria and the Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA).

The Artbank + QPAC Commission provides the opportunity for Queensland- based artists to create a new, large scale work on paper for display at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre fortwelve months. The work is then available to lease as part of the Artbank collection.

Fellow QCA alumnus Claudia Moodoonuthi won last year’s commission with her work, Mapping the Modern.

Karen will appear at the Griffith University Art Museum on 16 October for an ‘In Conversation’ event, as part of the acclaimedWith Heart and Hand exhibition.