Karen Willenbrink-Johnsen creates astonishing work derived from her love of adventure, nature, and glass. Raised in Ohio, the naturalist daughter of an naturalist father, Willenbrink-Johnsen is “constantly inspired, revitalized, and awed by the power of nature”. After earning her BFA in sculpture from Ohio University, glass quickly became the driving force in Karen’s life. She moved to Washington State in 1987, and soon afterward she began working as an assistant to the legendary glass artist William Morris. Karen’s unique vision and passion for glass is evident in her work, which has been shown extensively in galleries and museums throughout the country. She co-teaches sculpting classes throughout the world with her husband and collaborator, Jasen Johnsen.
Jasen Johnsen ~ “I have always had a strong desire to create things. Working with glass continually pushes me into new realms, satisfying my inclination to use my hands and drawing on my tendency to think about things technically and precisely. Each project is an adventure, testing my strengths and challenging my knowledge of the material. It is natural for Karen and I to work collaboratively. Bird watching is something we both really enjoy. It is all about observation – really seeing, and not just watching. We look at so much more that the birds, we discuss the pattern, colors and textures of logs, flora, rocks and animal tracks, and how they can be translated into glass.” Jasen Johnsen served as the head studio technician at Pilchuck Glass School for nearly 10 years. He worked as teaching assistant for Pino Signoretto and Hank Murta Adams, before beginning to co-teach classes with Karen.
Acquisition, Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, WA 2006 Artist Trust and the Washington State Arts Council Grant, Seattle, WA 1999 Poncho Scholarship, Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, WA 1999 General Scholarship, Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, WA 1998 Newcomb Women’s Art Grant, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 1995 Corning Award/Outstanding Student, Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, WA 1994 Louis Comfort Tiffany Award, Nominated, New York, NY 1994 General Scholarship, Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, WA 1993