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Alumni Profile

It is difficult to write a profile on alumna Karen M. Wirth. She defies convenient categories. Her work involves sculpture, installation, and architecture. As an educator, she has taught K-12 and museum education, and has taught in private and public colleges and universities. Her administrative experience spans a variety of roles from academic dean to board member and oversight of public art project art designs. Driven by her many interests, Wirth has ventured into various areas of the art world. She has had tremendous success in all of her pursuits. The Department of Art is very proud to claim her as one of its most outstanding graduates.

Wirth received her MFA from the University of Minnesota in 1990 and her BFA magna cum laude from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where she graduated first in her class. In 1984, she did graduate work in Art Education at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, MD. She has taught at the University of Minnesota, the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD), and the College of Visual Arts (CVA), St. Paul, MN where she was Dean of Academic Affairs from 1999-2001 and Associate Professor since 1993. After an extensive national search, she was recently hired as Chair of Fine Arts at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design where she will assume her administrative responsibilities this fall.

Throughout her career, Wirth has consistently been the recipient of grants, fellowships, and honors. Some of these awards include a Minnesota State Arts Board Visual Artist Fellowship, two Jerome Visual Arts Travel and Study Grants, a Bush Foundation Visual Arts Fellowship, two Jerome Foundation/M.C.B.A. Book Arts Fellowships, and a National Endowment for the Arts regional Visual Arts Fellowship. She was recently received an American Institute of Architects Minnesota Honor award for Open Book Staircase with MS&R architects.

Wirth is an artist with an extensive exhibition record. She has participated in numerous solo and small group exhibitions as well as public art and architectural projects. Much of her work is interdisciplinary. What connects the “dots”? How does she integrate the many facets of her talents?

Alumni Art-E-Facts Newsletter,
College of Liberal Arts,
University of Minnesota, Fall 2003