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Karen Karnes (November 17, 1925 – July 12, 2016) was an American ceramist, best known for her salt glazed, earth-toned stoneware ceramics. She was born in 1925 in New York City, where she attended art schools for children. Her garment worker parents were Russian and Polish Jewish immigrants, and the family lived in the Bronx Coops. Karen was influenced in many ways by her parents', communist philosophies, and has professed respect for working in small communities.
Karnes applied for and was accepted to the La Guardia High School. As a child she was surrounded by urban realities and visual influences, but she claims that her parents' old-world ideals kept her grounded. At Brooklyn College she majored in design and graduated in 1946. After graduating, she studied abroad in Italy, where she continued to study ceramics.
After returning from Italy, Karnes began a graduate program at Alfred University, but left before completing her degree to work at Black Mountain College.
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