An Exclusive Interview with Visual Artist, Author and Photographer ‘Karen Bystedt’
Karen Bystedt is an American visual artist, author (Not Just Another Pretty Face, The New Breed: Actors Coming of Age, They Dared to Dream), and photographer who has installed her own art exhibit at The Port Authority Bus Terminal in NYC, where it will be viewed by approximately 56,000 people a day. The exhibit contains artwork from her ‘King Kollection’, ‘Inclusion Series’, as well as two pieces from the ‘Lost Warhol’ inspired collaboration between Bystedt and hip-hop artist turned street artist Chris Brown.
Pro Media Mag : How much your life and surroundings has influenced your work?
Karen Bystedt : I come from a very strong cultural upbringing. As a child I travelled the world and went to many museums and balet and opera performances. My educational background at NYU School of Visual Arts gave me a strong background in film and photography.
Todayas a living working artist I am very much influenced by my surroundings and what is going on in the world -now more than ever I see so much violence and hate but also I see beauty and a lot more INCLUSION and melding of peoples of different ethnicities cultures and backgrounds. I truly don’t see color only the beauty in each person.This drives me to shed some light and inspire the message of collaboration and INCLUSION in my art as I also strive to create beautiful art. I love music and have also been listening to R&B and hip hop since 2005 thus my collaboration with Chris BrowN. One of my new Projects is Music Kings $ Queens.
My drive is to engage people in reflecting on history to inspire and also to think out of the box by creating art that is contemporary and esthetic. My King Kollection crowns Andy Warhol and Jean Michel Basquiat( photo by Brad Branson). They are both KINGS and that is powerful. My crowns are urban inspired and my message is to embrace the Kings and Queens within ourselves. Self love in a healthy way leads to more love and non judgment towards others.
Pro Media Mag : Tell us about Andy Warhol photographs, what was the role of these photographs in your photographi career ?
Karen Bystedt :I had been a photographer my whole adult life. I believe that part of being an artist is following ones intuition and allowing oneself to be guided in life’s chosen path. My artist journey began in 2011 after I found my negatives of Andy Warhol which I had taken 25 years before which led me to conceptualize having other artists paint/ silk screen and collage on top of my photographs to create mixed media art and build my international “The Lost Warhols” collection of fine art and street art murals. I started as a collaborator and as a conceptual artist relentlessly building my brand and eventually felt compelled to start painting and creating my own art. I also became the subject of my own art and that of others. I have my Gold Queen series with the female photographer Christiana Lucratif.
I have always thought out of the box. And the beauty of being older I now have the confidence to really be ok with who I am. I went gold and naked at almost 50 and I look good. Ive been told that is an inspiration for women of all ages.
Pro Media Mag : Having your photographs exhibit at The Port Authority Bus Terminal of NY & NJ is a nice idea. What made you decide you should go for it?
Karen Bystedt : As an artist not only do I want to sell my art but I also would like to share my art with as many people as possible. The Port Authority bus station in New York is the busiest bus station in the world. You have 56k and it’s 235 thousands per day 65k millions a year . My exhibition is across from the 911 exhibition which a lot of people come to see and so I have so many eyes on my art at the bus station I am and I’m very grateful to Myron Johnson for curating me and for being such a great supporter of my art and that of Chris Browns. One of the projects I am working in 2017 is partnering with “gods love we deliver” in a cohesive show and auction of my “The Lost Warhols” collection this on the year of the 30th anniversary of Andy Warhols death.
For the Port Authority exhibition I chose to include the beginning of my INCLUSION series the girl with the the Hijab the two young African-American kings Queen DESTINY and my Gold Queen. In addition I am showing just two pieces for my lost Warhol’s collection -my collaboration with Chris Brown – one of which had some art on by his friend DeeCosey.
Pro Media Mag : Visual art, writing and photography each of these need full attention. How do you manage them all?
Karen Bystedt : I would say that the answer to this question is twofold one is I do have a lot of energy which is why I really loved running around in New York and creating as much as I did this past June. The second is really that I am now melting all of those talents together and so a lot of my new art is photography based and then I create mixed media – stencil / brushes it and whether a collage or gold leaf or paint or write and other technics and inspirations.
Pro Media Mag : What are some of your favorite topics to capture with camera?
Karen Bystedt : I love photographing human beings and especially when I have a theme in mind set is the inclusion and I have a strong vision of what it is that I’m going for and then I work with my subjects in order to capture their essence and inner and outer beauty/ as I did in the past when I photographed Brad Pitt Johnny Depp Sandra Bullock and Dhimon Hounsou . I’m also of getting King and Queen commissions whereby I photograph my client and then edit in a certain way and then paint over to create a mixed media art piece a king or queen piece.
Pro Media Mag : Is there anyone who inspires you ?
Karen Bystedt : This may seem cliché but I have recently gotten pretty close to my mother Charlotte Ballard and I would say that she is a huge source of inspiration for me because she is a strong independent young minded beautiful woman who has aged gracefully and is still young in her mind and is still curious and enthusiastic about life. Also I have to say that even though I photographed Andy Warhol so many years ago once I found the negatives and my journey with him begin to create the last five years I’ve learned a lot about him and he has inspired me in so many ways to be OK with my oddness/ to think outside the box to /to not be afraid to collaborate and to see see beauty in ordinary objects. Also Basquiat was such a beautiful charismatic individual and of course his crown inspired me to see myself as a queen and also to inspire supporting others in finding the king and queen within themselves.
Pro Media Mag : Anything else you would like to share with our readers ?
Karen Bystedt : My gratitude for my life and for being able to have the freedom to do what I love and to create art and to inspire and that’s a beautiful thing.