Sunshine Coast designer and artisan Karen Konzuk has been named a 2020 recipient of the Carter Wosk Award for Applied Art and Design from the British Columbia Achievement Foundation.
“This year’s [five] awardees … demonstrate creative flair and attention to detail, blending art and function to make our world a better place,” foundation chair Anne Giardini said in an Oct. 26 news release. B.C. Achievement is an independent foundation established in 2003 to celebrate community service, arts, humanities, and enterprise. Current board members include Premier John Horgan, provincial Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Lisa Beare, and Jack Lohman, CEO of the Royal B.C. Museum.
The Carter Wosk Award is named in honour of B.C. educator and designer Sam Carter, and philanthropist Yosef Wosk.
“I was extremely thrilled and honoured to receive the award, particularly for being recognized for the craftsmanship and innovation that goes into my work,” Konzuk told Coast Reporter from her home in Garden Bay, where she lives with her daughter and husband and business partner Dwayne Dobson.
The award jury noted that Konzuk has created “a renowned modern line of handcrafted concrete jewellery … artfully constructed from the meaningful use of industrial materials inspired by her appreciation of the west coast landscape and the majestic sky.”
New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and Guggenheim Museum think highly enough of Konzuk’s work to retail it in their gift shops, as does the Vancouver Art Gallery. In 2019, she was invited by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation to develop an official jewelry collection, inspired by Wright’s works. “It’s been really exciting to be able to work with the [Wright] foundation, and launch that collection,” Konzuk said. While she was enchanted by Wright’s architecture, his two-dimensional work also caught her imagination.
“He did a series of designs for Liberty Magazine that never got published. One was called March Balloons, which is a series of circles, representing balloons elevating into the sky,” which provided inspiration for her jewelry designs, she said. “The most important thing with these pieces was the introduction of colour, which is difficult to do. Finding the right kind of tints that would work within concrete and match [Wright’s] palette as well, it was a long journey figuring that one out.”
Konzuk’s work, which can be found at konzuk.com, now also includes household objects, like her fine Orbis series of concrete vessels. Expanding the product line has proved to be a timely innovation, said Konzuk. “It’s actually helped us through this whole pandemic crisis right now, because nobody wants to be wearing new jewelry at home in a quarantine situation or isolation.”