Karen Wilberding-Diefenbach
Artist Biographical Information


San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, CA, Master of Fine Arts, 1985
Studio School, New York, NY, 1980
Art Student's League, New York, NY, 1979
Manhattanville College, Purchase, NY, Bachelor of Arts, 1978
Otis Art Institute, Los Angeles, CA, 1975 - 1977
University of California at Los Angeles, CA, 1977

Solo Exhibitions

19999 "Olive Trees and Pecore", Galerie Janos, Paris
1998 "Other Places & Olive Trees," Jernigan Wicker Fine Arts, San Francisco, CA 1996
"Other Places," Jernigan Wicker Fine Arts, San Francisco, CA 1995
"Sisyphus Cycle," bronzes, Jernigan Wicker Fine Arts, San Francisco, CA 1988
"Sisyphus Cycle," paintings, J. Noblett Gallery, Sonoma, CA 1980
"Karen Wilberding: Paintings and Sculpture," Brownson Art Gallery, Purchase, NY

Group Exhibitions

1992 "Summer Collectible: Gallery Artists for Young Collectors," Jernigan Wicker Fine Arts, San Francisco, CA
1991 "A Different Dimension," SEIPP Gallery, Palo Alto, CA
1985 "MFA Show," Fort Mason, San Francisco, CA
1984 "International Summer Olympics Art Exhibition," Juried exhibition; traveled from Los Angeles, CA
1983 "Three Painters," Diego Rivera Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1983 "Isolation and The Familiar," Castro Market Place, San Francisco, CA


Two years ago when I moved to New York City from San Francisco, my life abruptly changed.
I expected the etched, linear, new environment might alter the subject of my work from a rural to urban focus. To the contrary, I found my interest in the Tuscan landscape and geometry of Midwestern farmlands intensified. The mysteries of these "Other Places" became more essential.

Wherever I am, I work. In Italy each summer, I draw in a 17th century farmhouse which is set in an olive grove amidst sharply terraced hills. There, quiet mornings are visually charged by the changing light, clouds and occasional storms. The goatherder's slow traverse resembles the moving shadows, his sharp commands piercing the silence. The drawings from this site are references I use for paintings completed during the rest of the year. In my studio I look at these Italian sketches with a different eye. My issues move from relationships within the landscape to exploring the meaning in the objects themselves and the spaces in between.

One of my concerns in the "From the Farmhouse" series is the contrast in time from moment to moment, historic to present. A brief glance across a deep, stone window ledge captures a land unchanged since Imperial Rome. Yet, the wind may instantly cause shadows to change and angles to disappear. My intent in the small scale and fine detail of these paintings is to simulate the concentrated "looking" with which we see with new perspective. This work is reminiscent of remote Arcadian scenes sometimes appearing in the corner of an Annunciation or over a man's shoulder in a Renaissance portrait.

The "Olive Trees" are portraits. Each tree is unique. Some with gnarled trunks bend forward from a steep hillside. Others pose like graceful dancers. Still others, contorted and seemingly lifeless, reveal a triumphant crown of new growth. Tenacious, they survive, twisting to another direction, abandoning and starting over. Brave and monolithic, they endure.

In the Midwestern landscapes there is a greater awareness of the presence of man. Farm machines stand like sculpture in the flat fields. Linear forms, boundaries, crop rows, and barns mark his presence. There is a dignity in these land patterns affected as they are by changing weather and seasons. My interest in the interaction between man and nature often takes form in pairs or groups of paintings that extend the investigation process. Here as in the Italian work, a meditation on landscape reveals the mysterious relationship between places and human identity.