Karen Dana

Mexico, US – Painting

“Inherited touch”, 2018

Mixed media on canvas

91 x 112 cm


“Corporeal Language”, 2019

Oil on canvas

91 x 60 cm

£ 1500

Using painting as a way to understand immigrant mothering better and the way being a foreigner has developed a new personal and social narrative over the years. In her practice, Dana is concerned with exploring the possibilities of paint through expression and experimentation, in order to evoke feelings of tension and highlight the relationship between process and outcome. She approaches painting in a visceral, almost performative way. As a result, the painting oscillates between abstraction and figuration, entropy and order, with her using paint as a tool, medium, and subject.


Oil on canvas

10 x 15 cm



“Distant Closeness”, 2018

Oil and Ink on Canvas

76 x 107 cm


“Skin Tales”, 2019

Oil on canvas

10 x 15 cm


My work depicts the multiple roles that immigrant mothers are supposed to inhabit. Seeing my own experience mirrored trough my family history, I think of my grandmother knitting as a way to hold on to her Syrian past, I will apply paint in the way yarn interlaces itself. Digging into the research as an aim to give a voice to all the immigrant mothers who can’t be seen yet. Each attempt gives me something specific and tangible.

“A state of being”, 2019

Oil and ink on canvas
60 x 35 cm

Artist’s bio:

Karen Dana Cohen was born in 1982 in Mexico City and lives and works in Chicago, IL. She received a BFA from The National Institute of Fine Arts in Mexico City (2005) and earned her MFA degree at Hunter College, New York (2011), where she based her art studio up until 2017.

By experiencing her own family from abroad and beginning to grow into a family of her own she began exploring her painting practice as a more process-based research. The paintings of her recent work are often part of a specific arrangement based in gestures that she discovered inherited from women in her past as a mandate of femininity. The paintings offer an intimate narrative of the role immigrant women need to reinvent their whole self in order to survive, while at the same time defend their own identity through generations.

She is currently a BOLT artist in residence at Chicago Artists Coalition. She has participated in national and international exhibitions in Mexico, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, California, and has been awarded several honors including the Chicago Artists Coalition’s BOLT and Field/Work Residencies, FONCA Young Creators Grant, Honorable Mention at the XVI Mexican Painting Biennial, XVI Bienal de Pintura Rufino Tamayo, INBA, Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporaneo; MACO Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Oaxaca, Mexico. Honors at the XV National Biennale of Painting from Rufino Tamayo Contemporary Art Museum in México and Oaxaca. She currently leads an International critique group of artist mothers.