Photographer Karen Marshall documents social issues. By focusing on the psychological lives of her subjects, she has worked on a series of visual stories that contemplate familial relationships and convey ideas about people and place within the cultural landscape.
Her seminal study, Between Girls: A Passage To Womanhood, articulates the coming of age of a group of urban middle class teenagers, following them from high school into adulthood 30 years later. An endeavor that began with 35mm black and white photographs evolved into a meditation on friendship that includes audio interviews, old school video, a channeled video, collage, and a collection of small books and ephemera that explore the archive. The book of the three-decade project was published by Kehrer Verlag in 2021.
In her visual journey Marshall has witnessed the struggling identity of a group of Navajo Indians and the demise of their earth-based culture in Caretakers of the Earth: Navajo Resistance. She often directs her camera at family life, including her Pennsylvania Dutch in-laws’ clan in a series titled Pennsylvania In-Laws, which deliberates the theater of familial clan relationships, and Still, Standing, an exploration of the Polish landscape that her grandparents left behind when they emigrated to the United States in the early 1920’s.
Marshall is the recipient of artist fellowships and sponsorships through the New York Foundation for the Arts, as well as grants and support from private foundations. Nominated for the Prix Pictet in 2011, her work is part of several collections, including the Feminist Artbase at The Brooklyn Museum. Her photographs have appeared in numerous publications including The New York Times Magazine, the London Sunday Times, I-D Vice, NPR Picture Show, The Atlantic, New York Magazine, Fisheye, and GUP Magazine to name a few.
Marshall is the Chair of the one-year Documentary Practice and Visual Journalism Program at The International Center of Photography in New York City where she has been on the faculty for over two decades. She is an associate professor (adjunct) at New York University, a mentor for MFA candidates at the Maine Media Workshops and College in Rockport, Maine, and has taught numerous workshops internationally that focus on visual storytelling.
- Visual Storytelling: Putting It All Together