Karen Bognar Khan

“Sometimes I look at objects and think that if they are really composed of energy, that my seeing them as objects must be an illusion. From this “quantum” viewpoint objects seem to be abstract creations and really special.

My new still life work is part of a series called “Reflections.” Upon looking at my paintings, it is helpful for the viewer to disassociate himself or herself from preconceived prejudices of objects and view each painting as a fantasy environment of shapes and light, and of course reflections. The challenge is to view realistically painted objects in this free form or abstract manner. Also, any narrative theme thought to be part of the subject matter is welcome, but not necessarily intended by me. The paintings are like a Rorschach test, the viewer will interpret whatever reality that they wish to experience in the paintings. The use of mirrors helps dissolve surfaces or planes and create a more complex dimensional space. The metallic surfaces, whether curved or straight, provide more concrete distortion effects. There is also the element of the intrigue of shiny metal surfaces. I conceive of fabric as a connective sheath in space time, or as a veil between worlds. Fabric has its own reflective qualities. It is a malleable surface for ephemeral expression. The geometric shapes in my work are everyday objects. These shapes are building blocks in space. There is also beauty to geometric objects when thought of as the basic components of matter. Sometimes I think of hanging objects like circular mirrors, metal spheres and blown glass spheres as living orbs of light. They have spiritual aspects and are free of gravity. Hanging ribbons are dramatic devices to draw the viewers line of sight to the foreground objects. An occasional floating fish or a sphere can induce dissonance and intrigue in the viewer. The various poses of the wooden marionette or other mannequins represents the depersonalization of modern man in relation to the natural world. I also use biomorphic shapes that are generally taken out of their natural context. They represent anchors to the natural world.”

Karen Bognar Khan

Bali Still Life
oil on canvas, 30”x40”


Karen Bognar Khan

Night Vigil
oil on canvas, 36”x36”


Karen Bognar Khan

oil on canvas, 36”x46”


About Karen

Karen was born and raised in a suburb of Pittsburgh, PA. By the time she was in fifth grade she decided to pursue art as a profession. This pursuit led her to Carnegie Mellon University where she studied painting and sculpture, graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1980. From Carnegie Mellon University she developed her skills in abstract painting and sculpture. After graduating she moved to NYC and found her true direction which can only be describe as fusion of real and surreal styles.

She studied illustration at The Parsons School of Design, and pursued work as a free lance illustrator. Because of her newfound interests in the academic and naturalist traditions of classical art, it became necessary for her to pursue figurative studies at The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art.  She moved to Philadelphia, PA.  The organized, intense and concise training of The Pennsylvania Academy provided Karen with a deep understanding of anatomy and figurative painting. While in Philadelphia she was represented by the Goforth Rittenhouse Gallery.

 In 1990 she returned home to Pittsburgh, PA. Karen’s work was represented by the Mendelson Gallery, Pgh.  She founded a company called Universal Murals that produced residential and commercial murals and advertising art until 2000.  This work was lucrative but left her with little time for fine art. In 2002 Karen married and decided to devote her time to fine arts painting. She was drawn to still life painting from the viewpoint of setting up a private world to spend time dwelling in, what could be a close-up landscape. The work developed until 2016, when she broke away from classical still life themes and started developing her current style of “Abstract Realism”.

Karen and her husband currently live at the famous “Blue Heaven Farm” in Massachusetts, where she displays her art.  She also shows at The Welles Gallery, Lenox, MA, The Art Walk, Pittsfield, MA and other Berkshire venues. Throughout her life Karen has done numerous commissions. Additionally, she sells affordable custom prints of her prints at www.artaddictprints.com. She is a member of IGOR (the International Guild of Realism) and is featured on Galphia, an online gathering area for original art.


Columbia University 9/1975-12/1976
Carnegie Mellon University 9/1977-5/1980 BFA
Parsons School of Design 9/1982-5/83
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art 1987 9/88-5/89
Carlow College 9/2001-5/2002 Teaching License 6/2002


Represented by The Mendelson Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA 1991-1992
Represented by Artistic Connections, Atlanta, GA 3/91-11/91
Represented by Goforth-Rittenhouse Gallery, Phila, PA 5/89-4/90

Selected Exhibitions

* Indicates solo exhibits

*March–April 2020, Reflections, Whitney Center for the Arts, Pittsfield, MA
November 19th,2019- ongoing, Traditional Prints, Shaker Mill Tavern, West Stockbridge, MA
June 2017–Sept 2018, Still Life paintings, Cranwell Resort Lenox, MA
*July 7–14, 2016, Retrospective, Welles Gallery Lenox, MA
2016 Berkshire Arts Guild at The Community Center, West Stockbridge, MA
*Summer 2015, Still life Paintings and Prints, Art Walk: Pittsfield, MA Kinderhook Reality and BHS Berkshire Medical Center
2015–2017, Still life Prints, The Red Lion Inn, Stockbridge, MA
*2014–present, New and old paintings, Blue Heaven Farm, Richmond, MA
*2013–present, Prints, Lenox Family Health, Pittsfield, MA
*2002–2012, Still Life paintings, Golden Mile Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA
*1996, Several large murals, Brunhilda and The Valkyries, Castle Wall, The Bayeux Tapestry, The Valhalla Restaurant Pittsburgh, PA
*1999, Large outdoor painting Jesus as the Good Shepard, The Good Shepard Church, Braddock, PA

Public Art Commissions

1999–2000, The Braddock Mural Series, sponsored by UPMC Braddock Hospital and local business, Braddock, PA Included publicity and speaking
1999, The AJ Silberman Mural, Braddock, PA
2000, The History of Braddock Hospital Mural, Braddock, PA
1999, The Future of Braddock Children’s Mural, Braddock, PA
1999, Hawkins Village Housing Project Children’s Mural, Braddock, PA
1999, The Career of Mario Lemieux Mural, The American Business Center, Frick Building, Pittsburgh, PA
1999, Sky Wall Mural, Global Mid Central Headquarters, Pittsburgh, PA
1998, The History of Pittsburgh Jazz Mural, The Holiday Inn Select, Pittsburgh, PA Television coverage and unveiling speech
• 1998, The Heidelberg Raceway Mural, Shop n Save Corp. Pittsburgh, PA
1997, Italian Plaza Mural, The Vallozzi Restaurant, Greensburg, PA
1997, Ali Baba Restaurant Mural, Pittsburgh, PA
1996, Giant Eagle Greenfield Mural, Pittsburgh, PA
1994, Wiggys Restaurant Mural Pittsburgh, PA
1993-2000, Seasonal Holiday Murals for Giant Eagle, Pittsburgh, PA

Art Related Activities

2002, Art Teacher for summer session Boys and Girls Club, Wilkinsburg, PA 2001: Art Teacher for After School program, Fall Session, Ellis school, Pittsburgh, PA
2000–2002, Art Coordinator for The Braddock Arts and Music Center o Directed arts programs sponsored by The Heritage Health Foundation o Planned curricula for arts programs for children and adult o Assisted with special events, fundraising and implementation o Oversee activities of summer arts program o Taught mural painting techniques to children
1995, Assistant art teacher for Carnegie Museum, Pittsburgh, PA: Summer Session
1993–2005, Universal Murals, Pittsburgh, PA I owned and operated a small mural company
1990–1993, Faux Finish and Interior Decorating Pittsburgh, PA o I was a self-employed faux finish artist and interior decorator
1990–1993, Interior Decorator for Ann Veronica, Upper St Clair, PA. In charge of showroom decoration, which included my paintings and faux finish columns
1985–1990, Free Lance Illustrator NYC and Pittsburgh, PA o Highlights: Cheops Books cover “To Follow the Goddess” by Linda Cargill o Designed clothing for Biblical Doll line for Saari Industries o Wall map for Westinghouse Corp.
1984 Summer Internship at Calligraphy Studios, NYC designed lettering o Finished logo for “Chocolatier” magazine.


Member: IGOR International Guild of Realism
Member: Manhattan Arts International online Art Gallery
Member: AWA American Women Artists
Member: Guild of Berkshire Artists

Karen is an active member of the Long Pose Figurative Art Group that meets the first three Thursdays of every month at CPC.