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Karen Rubado

Invitational Artist – Aotearoa – Land of The Long White Cloud. January20th – February 28th 2022.

Karen in her Auckland Studio.

Karen will be at the gallery on Saturday February 12th from 2.30 pm to talk about these works and her art practice.

Refreshments will be served


Karen Rubado was born in Christchurch but grew up in the United States before returning 30 years later. She now lives and works in Devonport, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland and completed a Master of Fine Arts at the University of Auckland in 2017.

Karen is a self-taught weaver who uses an old four-shaft jack loom, rigid-heddle loom, and a variety of tapestry looms to create. She is interested in the aggregation and transformation of found materials and will often take things apart to weave them back together again. Her enthusiasm lies in the connections between intention and action, the real and imagined, and the imperfection that often characterises the handmade. Inspired by techniques of improvisation, her weaving practice encourages the unexpected and allows for spontaneity as a catalyst for discovery.

Karen was recently commissioned to produce a work for Te Tuhi and was featured as an emerging artist for “Projects” curated by Gabriela Salgado and Francis McWhannell in the 2018 Auckland Art Fair. Recent exhibitions include soft ware at Melanie Roger Gallery in Auckland (2021), 1924 at Corban Estate in Auckland (2021), and Daisy Chain at The Den Project Space in Christchurch (2021).

Karen’s personal web page is :

Karen describes the works she has currently installed in Aotearoa – Land of The Long White Cloud:

These works were curated and created in response to the island we call home, Aotearoa. At the age of 4 my family moved to the United States where I remained for 30 years. I didn’t grow up near water for most of those years so it is with a continued sense of wonder, discovery and appreciation that I now find myself on an island.  


The alpaca fleece was gifted to me by a videographer friend who was creating a documentary about alpacas. I was interested in working with the raw fleece to see how it would perform and was drawn to the traces of the animals in the form of dust, dirt and debris.

Sister embodies the space and absence I share with my sister who lives far away from our home.


Witness is a narrative work based on an encounter while visiting the island bird sanctuary of Tiritiri Matangi. It echoes the path taken, the unresolved mystery, and the interloper. 


Distance from other nations, from other people, from other events is something we’re all familiar with in Aotearoa, and with recent events it’s become even more difficult to close that gap. Transit speaks to the fragility and precarious state of physical connection beyond our shores.  

The offering

The offering was inspired by my travels to the top of our island. Because of travel restrictions, this is the first time I spent three weeks holidaying in Aotearoa. Every single day was spent on the shore, in the sun, and in the water from Waiheke Island to Ahipara on the west coast, from Cape Reinga to Matauri Bay on the east coast, and from Russell back home to Devonport. I spent a lot of time marvelling at waves as they move symbiotically, responding to each other. Much like a dancer offering a hand to a partner, the waves connect and separate creating a dreamy choreography. 

Karen Rubado deploys her loom, to do, to undo, and to make-do, both materially and to trouble and loosen our attachments to and associations with things. A strong element that runs throughout [her] works is that they are unresolved, and by being situated between being done and undone, woven and unwoven there is a sense that we are part of a fleeting moment in the fabric of time. This particular and fragile poise, between realized form and abject collapse, seems timely in a world that is equally poised. They are decidedly undecided and precarious.

(Julia Teale, 2021)