Karen May

 Karen May’s work is almost funerary in nature, seeking to recapture the memories of her past. For more than a half-century May lived with her mother and father and memories of this seemingly idyllic time tend to haunt her work. Her paintings are often depictions of the home they shared. Her sculptures are recreations of her family.

May is also an avid fan of popular music, frequently incorporating lyrics of hit songs and standards into her work.

Over the last several years, she has created and continued a series of detournements, manipulating art exhibition advertisements in art periodicals with ink and marker.


// Karen’s available work //


exhibition history

And Then Some… // NIAD Annex Exhibition // May 2022

DreamForms, curated by Lauren Ari and Julio Del Rio // NIAD Online Exhibition // March 2022

Road to Nowhere // selected by Eric Shiner // NIAD Online Exhibition // January 2021

Another Fine Mess Age: Anthony Grant X NIAD // NIAD Windows 2020

Through My Eyes// organized By Scott Hewicker and Cliff Hengst NIAD Art Center 2020

Good On Paper: Erin McCluskey Wheeler x NIAD // NIAD Art Center 2020

Fiberful // organized By Cynthia Ona Innis NIAD Art Center 2019

A Kind of Movement // organized by Jay Wehnert Portland Art And Learning Studios 2019 

Ether Here Nor There: Anthony Grant x NIAD // NIAD Art Center 2019

L’Amérique N’Existe Pas // organized by Matthieu Morin Art Et Marges Museum Brussels 2019

CE x CG X NIAD // Minnesota Street Projects San Francisco 2019 

Business Casual // organized By Maria Guzman Capron and Nan Collymore NIAD Art Center May 2019

Hailing From Parts Unknown // organized By Curtis Turner NIAD Art Center 2019

Map It // Museum of Northern California Art (monca) Chico 2019

Books, Man // organized by Mike Monteiro NIAD Art Center 2019

Redefining Contemporary Art // organized by Courtney Eldridge Depot Steamboat Springs 2019

Collective Memory: NIAD // organized by Hannah Mode 2019

Where They Want To Go // organized by Erin McCluskey Wheeler NIAD Art Center 2019

Talking Heads: Figuration From Northern California Ceramicists // Curated organized by Susan Alexander and NIAD Art Center Museum of Northern California Art (monca) Chico 2018

Exquisite Corpse: CG x CE x NIAD // NIAD Art Center 2018

It’s Complicated // organized by Kathleen King NIAD Art Center 2018

Microcosmic // organized by Dawline-Jane Oni-Eseleh NIAD Art Center 2018

The Genre Leaps // organized by Margaret Tedesco NIAD Art Center 2018

Reinventing History // NIAD Art Center 2018

Can Did // organized By Julio Rodriguez NIAD Art Center 2018

The Witnesses // organized by Cliff Hengst and Scott Hewicker NIAD Art Center 2017

Affinity // organized by Tim Buckwalter Museum of Northern California Art Chico 2017

We Can Do It! 2 // Hurwich Library, Alliant University San Francisco 2017

Collograph // NIAD Art Center 2017, Yali’s Cafe Stanley Hall Berkeley 2017

LA Art Book Fair // White Columns Booth, BFA Press Booth 2017

Creature Feature // organized by John Casey NIAD Art Center 2017

NADA Miami Art Fair // White Columns Booth Miami Florida 2016

Karen May // NIAD Art Center 2016

Curious Weave // organized by Ramekon O’Arwisters NIAD Art Center 2016

Cities In Mind // organized by Kathleen King NIAD Art Center 2016

Party Animals! // organized by Katie Johnson NIAD Art Center 2016

Celebrating A Vision: Art & Disability // SFO Terminal 2 2016

Adventure! // organized By Scott MacLeod NIAD Art Center 2015

Welcome To My World // organized by Chris Ashley NIAD Art Center 2015

Assemble: A NIAD Art Center Project With Nina Zurier // organized by Nina Zurier NIAD Art Center 2015

Musiquarium // NIAD Art Center 2015

City In Motion // NIAD Art Center 2014

Avatar // organized by Justine Frischmann NIAD Art Center 2014

Wild Ones // Women’s Cancer Resource Center Oakland 2014

Local Motion, Part One // Hercules Public Library 2013-14

Where Have All The People Gone? // organized by Amy Miller Village Theatre Art Gallery Danville 2013

Yes To The Dress Pop-Up Shop // organized by Peter Gravener NIAD Art Center 2013

Diamond Dogs Pet Supply Pop-Up Shop // NIAD Art Center 2103

Mud, Honey // NIAD Art Center 2013

Championship Vinyl // NIAD Art Center 2013

A Light That Never Goes Out: Continuing Traditions In Abstraction // NIAD Art Center 2013



Star 82 Review Issue 10.1, edited by Alisa Golden // March 2022

Karen May: Let it be a book // TUTTO Publishers // 2021

Karen May, BFA Press 2016



The Editorial Magazine: Nurturing Independence Through Artistic Development (July 27, 2020)

The September Issues: Revisionism (2019, Fall)

Artsy: 9 Artists To Watch At NADA Miami (2017, December)

Nat. Brut: I, Too, Like Purple (May 2017)

Artsy: NADA’s Emerging Art Community Thrives Amid Turbulent Times (2016, December)

San Francisco Chronicle: “City In Motion”: NIAD Artists Create Urban Environment (2014, May)

San Francisco Chronicle: ‘Avatar’: Exhibition At NIAD Art Center (2014, January)

San Ramon Valley Times: Disabled Artists Work On Display (2013, September)

San Francisco Chronicle: NIAD Art Center’s Gifts Of Artistic Ability (2012, December)