Kara Bender
Kara Bender
Kara Bender was born in West Palm Beach, Florida and currently resides in Greenville, South Carolina. She enjoys experimenting with art making materials and is familiar with a variety of mediums and techniques. Kara originally had a background in graphic design, but quickly became interested in studio arts. She focused on mixed media and painting techniques while she obtained her B.F.A at the University of North Carolina Asheville campus, and would later work on shaped canvases, sculpture, and printmaking techniques while obtaining her M.F.A at Western Carolina University. Her current work involves large pen and ink drawings that focus on issues concerning ethnography and social justice. She teaches art and art history at Greenville Tech and the University of South Carolina’s Upstate campus, drawing and advanced drawing courses at the Spartanburg Art Museum, and a weekly painting and mixed media class at the Cascades retirement community. In her spare time she enjoys cooking, gardening, and sleeping in.


My work is largely ethnographic and is meant to give shape and form to various contemporary issues including healthcare struggles, media bias, police brutality, war,
femininity and sexual representation. Many of my pieces are quite large and meticulously overworked in a nearly obsessive manner. Some also have collage elements that consist of separate drawings, which are then cut out and pieced together to form the composition. I believe the manner of image creation is important, and symbolic of the internal mindset created when confronting or rationalizing the issue being illustrated.

In the past I had been focusing on various disparate elements working together to form a narrative space. These works juxtaposed human elements and object representations to form a single environment that was a snapshot of everyday human mythologies and experiences. As this process evolved, my drawings would often explore a symbolic and literal destruction and regrowth. Images would be mashed together, deeply layered, cut through, and warped; and even the paper itself would sometimes be hand made from documents, trash, and other materials from the world around me. Remnants of personal relics, ashes of loved ones, grass, and blood were integrated into the fibers of the paper during its creation to help form an artifact that is unique and deeply personal in nature. They reflect my personal anxieties in today’s political climate, and often take a new look at traditional themes such as proverbs or myths.

-Kara Bender