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There is a place that exists outside of understanding that can be accessed through belief and play. I strive to create art that sets out from this place and journeys into the new and infinite unknown of imagination by means of suggested narratives, pauses in action, and other moments that offer traces of becoming.
Art and education are entwined in my personal and professional practice. Sharing creative experiences with others opens an environment for teaching and learning. Process and discovery are central to both my own art making and my educational interests. My goal is to make works that contribute an authentic and relevant voice within the dialogue of art through connected, considered, and generative thinking, learning, and creative practices.

self-portrait, 2016, collage on canvas, 3x3 in. 

Karen McGarry is a Michigan-based artist, artist educator, and advocate for equitable and generative arts education practice, currently an Assistant Professor of Art Education at Oakland University, Rochester, MI.

She earned her PhD from the University of Cincinnati (UC) in the Educational Studies program, concentrating in Curriculum Studies and Teacher Education. McGarry previously taught in the Art Education program at DAAP, UC. While living in Los Angeles, she was an art education adjunct at California State University Long Beach (CSULB) and California Institute of the Arts (Cal Arts), Valencia, CA. Other experience includes secondary visual arts and humanities teaching at Arroyo Pacific High School, Arcadia, CA, Bishop Fenwick High School, Franklin, OH, and other work with community-based arts organizations.

Her active studio practice includes making artworks in various media along with generating art-based research in the form of publications and exhibitions. Arts-Based Research for her PhD can be viewed at:

She has lived, worked, and exhibited in London, Dublin, Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles, holds a Masters in Art Education (MAAE) from the University of Cincinnati, an MFA in studio practice and a Minor in Women's Studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a BFA from Wayne State University, Detroit.

She is a member and former officer of the National Art Education Association (NAEA) and served as the editor of The Painted Monkey, the newsletter of the California Art Education Association (CAEA), from 2013-2016. Other professional affiliations include AERA, arts-based research SIG and InSEA. 

For a list of peer-reviewed publications, see the Publications tab above. 

Work Samples

Personal Work Samples

Student Work Samples

Selected Recent Exhibitions

The Art of Words – Exhibition, Impossible Portfolio, DAAP Library, UC, 2019

Multitextual Reflection Journal Project, Arts-Based Research, PhD Graduate Studies, from 2017

DAAP Art Auction, University of Cincinnati, Reed Art Gallery/DAAP, 2019

Patterns of Influence, The Painting Center, New York, NY, 2019

Fashion, Gender & Image, Kennedy Heights Art Center, Cincinnati, OH, 2018

Bookworks 18, Cincinnati Public Library, Cincinnati Book Arts Society, Cincinnati, OH, 2017

Reused and Recycled, Brazee Street Studios, C-link Gallery, Oakley, OH, 2017

A Place to Call Home, Juried Exhibition, People Working Cooperatively, Cincinnati, OH, 2017

Double Vision, Visionaries and Voices, Cincinnati, OH, 2016-17

10th Annual Ohio Online Visual Artists Registry Juried Exhibition, Columbus, OH, 2016

It’s a Trip, Lloyd Library and Museum, Cincinnati, OH, 2016

In, On, Of Paper, Paper Circle, Columbus, OH, 2016

Paperworks, Upstream Gallery, New York, 2016

Recent Works, Awakenings, Cincinnati, OH, 2016

Kennedy Heights Art Center Summer Juried Exhibition, Cincinnati, OH, 2016

my hands, 2016, dress pattern paper, gel medium, thread

Recent Projects, Publications, and Selected Conference Presentations



Speaker, CAC Educator Workshops, Contemporary Art Center, Cincinnati, OH 2020

Panelist, Anti-Racism Community Space, CECH Diversity & Inclusion, University of Cincinnati, OH 2020



Researching the Radical Possibilities of Arts-Based Research, co-presenter: Flavia Bastos, PhD, MWERA, Cincinnati, OH, 2019

Why They Persist: Urban STEM Teacher Stories, co-presenter: Helen Meyer, PhD, MWERA, Cincinnati, OH, 2019

Locating Reflexivity within Reflection and Textual Discourse Analysis, InSEA International Congress, UBC, Vancouver, BC, 2019

Locating Reflexivity within Reflection and Textual Discourse Analysis, ICQI, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, 2019

Locating Reflexivity, UCET, Stratford-Upon-Avon, UK

Visualizing and Making in an ELD Humanities, NAEA National Convention, Chicago, IL 2016

Integrating Art Through Practicum Partnerships Teacher Preparation, NAEA National Convention, Chicago, IL 2016

Contemplate, Create, Innovate, NAEA National Convention, San Diego, CA 2014

Elements & Principles of Art and Design/Retrofitting Language Use in Art Education, NAEA National Convention, Baltimore MD2012

Fostering an Art Education Toolbox, NAEA National Convention, New York, NY 2011

House of Aesthetics/Visualizing Aesthetics for Pre-Service Art Education Students, CAEA Conference, Irvine, CA 2014

Contemplate, Create, Innovate, CAEA Conference, Idyllwild, CA 2013

Contemplate, Create, Innovate, STEMx Online Conference, 2013


Find selected papers on

Awards and Honors

Director’s Choice Award, DAAP, University of Cincinnati, OH 2011

Ohio Art Education Association Scholarship Award Recipient, OAEA 2011

Yeck Fellowship, Dayton Art Institute, Dayton, OH 2011

Outstanding Graduate Student Award, GSGA, University of Cincinnati, OH, 2011,

Ox-Bow Artist Residency, School of the Art Institute Chicago, Saugatuck, MI, 1999,

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