Featured Artist

Karen Trunko’s Botanical Exhibit on Display at Noble Horizons

By Published On: October 2nd, 2023

“I have a calendar that my mom made for me many years ago, and there’s a photo of me at two years old with a plastic camera, running around the house taking photos,” Karen laughs. “I guess I’ve always loved taking pictures.”

Indeed, Karen has spent her entire life observing the world through a lens. In college, she took photography courses where she spent hours in the darkroom developing photos. Later on when things moved digital, Karen adapted and immediately went to work learning how to use Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.

Her first show

Now, Karen has her first exhibition on display at Noble Horizons in Salisbury, CT. Her botanical series is made of up 16 pieces that she printed, matted, and framed herself.

“I want the prints to be truly representative of my creative eye, so I enjoy doing the whole process myself at home,” she says.

So far, five of the pieces have sold.

“This was my first ever show, so that was huge for me,” she says. “I learned a lot and gained more confidence. It was like, ‘okay, this is something you can really do.’”

All of the photos but three were taken at her farm in Pine Plains, NY. Karen says that she gets a lot of inspiration from her immediate surroundings, as her home is surrounded by flower gardens, rolling hills, lots of greenspace, and also houses horses and donkeys.

The three photos that were not taken at her home were taken at Wethersfield Estate & Gardens in Amenia, NY and at Innisfree Garden in Millbrook, NY. She also notes that she gets much of her inspiration from hikes throughout New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.

A matter of subjects

As for the subjects that Karen likes to photograph, she’s always been drawn to bucolic landscapes, particularly in the Hudson Valley area. After moving from Texas, she found that she loved similar aspects here that were present in her previous home as well, such as old barns, silos, and mountains.

“I do a lot of farm animals, and I’ve grown to love cows especially. It’s ironic because I hated cows when I was in Texas because they’re such a pain, but now I love them,” she laughs.

One thing she prefers here as opposed to Texas is the winter season. “I love winter and stark winter settings,” she says. “I have so many moody photos of the donkeys during the winter with the gray barn in the background. I like experimenting, so it never gets old.”

She tells me that she was bummed when winter was over, given that it’s her favorite season, but quickly realized that she would be able to challenge herself to focus on the individual characteristics of things like flowers, weeds, and other naturally occurring elements.

“I felt like I was completing a school project with the constraints of my own making,” she laughs. “It was challenging and allowed me to develop my photography skills significantly.”

She also loves dramatic landscapes and seasonal “moody” images. She says that at her show at Noble, she stuck to the theme of botany, but she’s not “just a one trick pony.”

“I enjoy the harshness of landscapes and observing how the elements change in a beautiful way,” she says.

Karen says she takes anywhere from 25 to 100 photos per day, and frequently snaps photos of mundane things, such as the fruits and vegetables she picks out of the garden, or of her Australian Cattle Dog, Newt.

Her biggest struggle is presenting her photos in the way that she sees them. “I think my artistic eye is in place, but getting the camera to capture it the way I want it to is always a challenge.”

She notes that outdoor photography, which is her style of choice, is especially difficult due to constant external forces such as changing light and the wind blurring elements of the image.

“That makes you work harder, though, which means you get the technical skills and aren’t using your equipment as a crutch. I’ve learned a lot through facing these challenges in the past year or so.”

Biggest inspirations

Some of her inspirations include Ansel Adams, who was a landscape photographer and environmentalist. Karen is also passionate about land preservation, particularly in this area, so her interest in Ansel Adams and his work is dual-purpose.

Another inspiration for her is Saul Leiter, who was a fashion photographer in the 1940s and 1950s, who later shifted to street photography. Karen says that the way Leiter composed images inspires her greatly, particularly his use of reflection, lighting, and textures.

Perhaps most importantly, however, one of Karen’s biggest inspirations is artist Jean Tate, for whom she is a caretaker and gardener.

“As an artist and poet, she’s been a huge creative influence on me in the past year,” she says. “I am so grateful to work for her and learn from her.”

Next steps

Going forward, Karen’s ultimate goal is to be a complete professional and have her own business. “Being out in the field taking photos, the creative artistic part of it, the printing, matting, and framing, the selling portion, I really just enjoy the whole process of it. I would love to be able to do this full time,” she says.

For now, she sells her work in her etsy shop and is looking forward to hosting another show sometime soon. She’s also open to commissions now, and later on, hopes to publish a book that combines her photos with some of her poetry.

“I have so much more to learn and I’m looking forward to that process. Just being able to focus on seeing things and presenting the image that I see in a great way. That’s what it’s all about.”

Karen’s exhibit is on display at Noble Horizons on weekends until October 15. You can view her works on sale on her etsy shop here https://www.etsy.com/shop/ktfineartphotography/?etsrc=sdt. You can contact Karen at ktfineartphotography@gmail.com or at (830) 428-8412.

 Noble Horizons
17 Cobble Rd, Salisbury CT 06068