Remembering Karen Karnes by Anne Shattuck Bailey
Editor’s Note: This essay was adapted from Anne’s eulogy at Karen’s Celebration of Life, September 17, 2016 at The Art School at Old Church, Demarest, New Jersey.
Karen and I first crossed paths at the Rhinebeck Craft Fair in 1976. Of course, I was aware of who she was when she stopped by my craft fair display to look at my pots. I really admired her work. Like her, I was a salt-glazing potter. Unlike her, I was trying—more often than not, struggling—to make a living as a full-time potter. It was not easy, but I was optimistic, and I had been competently trained in England in the Leach tradition. And hey, it was the seventies: handmade was in! And guess what? I was an Old Yank, don't you know! Coming from farmers, sailors and merchants, I knew the value of hard work.
At Rhinebeck, Karen asked if I would be a part of her group show at Old Church. Me showing with Karen Karnes? Okay, I think I can do this. Rhinebeck was my first big craft fair, and I was beyond thrilled that she wanted to help a young potter like me. It was truly one of my life's most memorable moments: a woman whom I deeply admired, a fantastic potter and a visionary, was asking me to show my work with her. It was just what I needed at that point in my life. Yes, yes, yes, there is a pottery god! Thank you, Karen, you were it....