Graphite, smoke, on Arches
Karoline Schleh, a native of New Orleans, teaches painting at Loyola University and operates New Orleans Letterpress, a book arts studio. Her drawings, paintings, and prints are rendered with a distinct atmospheric quality and longhand backwards script, which she has developed over the past 25 years. Her most recent compositions, inspired by landscape study, weather systems, and the human form, reference subjects with which she has been engaged throughout her career. In these works, handwriting functions as both word and image, highlighting its connections to drawing, observation, and contemplation.
Schleh became interested in handwriting at a young age when her immigrant grandmother encouraged her to copy an antiquated German cursive alphabet used in her grandmother’s native Black Forest village. Although the exercise was intended to teach and preserve the history of this alphabet, the experience also cultivated Schleh’s love of copying intricate and unfamiliar letterforms, as well as her interest in the ways in which various handwriting styles and alphabets shift and disappear with time.
The “flipped script” that Schleh uses evolved from her training as a printmaker. She began writing backwards on her copper etching plates out of necessity, so that the words in the final print would appear in the right direction. Eventually, she abandoned her print plates and the handwriting reversals began to stand on their own in her drawings and paintings. While the words can (for the most part) be deciphered in a mirror, knowing what is written is not essential to the experience of the work; rather, Schleh’s works aim to convey the reflective mindset that comes from the process of writing, and the recognition that the meanings of words shift over time.
Schleh received her BFA from Tulane in 1990. As an undergraduate at Newcomb she studied painting and drawing, and credits Professor James Steg for encouraging her to extend her experiments in these disciplines through the investigative processes of printmaking. In 1994 she received an MFA in Printmaking from Louisiana State University, and subsequently went to work with the Vinalhaven Press in Maine, where she had the opportunity to work with master printers editioning for Robert Indiana, Alison Saar, and Jose Bedia. Schleh continued edition printing at Robert Blackburn’s Printmaking workshop in New York City, where she collaborated with other artists and writers and worked as Outreach Coordinator to conduct workshops for the community. Upon returning to New Orleans, Schleh designed and built the print studio now located in the New Orleans School of GlassWorks, where she taught classes on printmaking and bookbinding. Schleh has taught courses in drawing, painting, printmaking, and bookbinding at Loyola, Tulane, Delgado, and served for 12 years as the Director of Exhibitions for the Collins C. Diboll Art Gallery at Loyola.
Schleh is represented by Callan Contemporary in New Orleans and by Ann Connelly Fine Art in Baton Rouge. She has artwork in the collection of the New Orleans Museum of Art, Louisiana State Museum, and The New Orleans Arts Council, as well as in numerous private collections. She has received grants from the Pollock Krasner Foundation, Joan Mitchell Foundation, and Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation. Works included in the permanent collection at NOMA are a series of four etchings made in collaboration with New York poet Marcella Durand from 2000, and the chapbook, “Mistah Leary He Dead” by Hunter S. Thompson, which she letterpressed and hand bound in an edition of 326 copies for Perdido Press and X-Ray books in 1997.
Karoline Schleh - "Nina Simone"
Shipping fees are additional. Please contact us for a shipping quote.