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Sketchbook Porn: Karen Hackenberg

Karen Hackenberg’s large-scale, hyperrealistic paintings offer a slyly subversive commentary on a current state of ocean degradation spurred by unchecked consumer culture. Her stacks of shiny, candy-colored debris—which include everything from plastic bottles and tampons to golf tees—are redolent of the seductive sheen of Pop Art, but with a chilling twist.

"I make small diagrams of possible paintings and sculptures amidst the free-form ramblings of my daily journals," Hackenberg says of her process. "However, the preliminary sketches for my paintings often take the form of loosely constructed models that I make from the plastic trash I’ve gathered from the beach. The ideas for these models, as well as the paintings they inspire, begin with the randomness of the items I find washed ashore, expanding further as I intuitively sort, arrange and glue pieces together to form objects that imply a larger cultural narrative. My sketches-as-models become more fully fleshed out when I bring them back to the beach to photograph them in the briny cobble and seaweed along the tideline." The following images offer a glimpse of that process at work.

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