Karen Hampton’s artwork for the Northeast Entrance draws inspiration from her childhood experiences riding the RTD bus along Wilshire Blvd, examining how travel can broaden one’s access to different cultures. In the 1960s, Karen Hampton was one of the first children to be bussed across Los Angeles to Westwood Village to attend high school. Using narrative storytelling through patchworked indigo-dyed textiles, personal photographs, and weavings, Hampton’s work will also reflect her observations as an adult on the migration of cultural expressions in Los Angeles. As a textile artist, Hampton first found her medium and muse from the permanent collection of world textiles at The Fowler Musuem at UCLA, tracing the diasporic link of fiber arts and world cultures throughout time. Hampton was also inspired by the Now Dig This!: Art and Black Los Angeles (1960-1980) that opened at the Hammer Museum at UCLA in 2011 and her work for the station includes images of prominent Black artists from Los Angeles.
“My process for designing Memories was to draw on themes from diasporic textiles and some of my textile designs. One of the themes found throughout my practice is the exploration of the historical roots of our contemporary world. For example, I look back to see forward. I look at the influences and traditions from West African cultures to understand the African Diaspora or another example is that I look at the rhythms, colors, and textures of a people exhibited through their crafts to link the heart and the soul of one to another culture.”
About the Artist
KAREN HAMPTON (b. 1958, Los Angeles) is a textile artist who is also trained in anthropology. Taking on the role of the griot or storyteller, she pays homage to her African American community and ancestors in her textile works, which often feature family stories, personal experiences, larger historical narratives, and traditional African motifs. Hampton earned a Bachelor of Arts from New College of California in 1992 and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of California, Davis in 2000. She is currently an assistant professor at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston, Massachusetts. Her artwork has been exhibited widely and is represented in the collections of the Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art at Hamilton College, New York, and the Honolulu Museum of Art. In 2008, Hampton received the Eureka Fellowship from the Fleishhacker Foundation in San Francisco and in 2022, she was named a Fellow of the American Craft Council.