Karla Black is a Scottish sculptor who creates abstract 3D art pieces that explore the physicality of materials as a way of understanding and communicating the world around us.
She was born 1972 in Alexandria, Dunbartonshire and studied Sculpture at The Glasgow School of Art from 1995 to 1999. From there, Black gained an MPhil in Art in Organisational Contexts from the year 1999–2000 as well as a MFA in 2002 through 2004.
In 2011, Black was nominated for both the Turner Prize and was a representative in Scotland at the Venice Biennale. Black's work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at a number of international venues such as Modern Art Oxford and Kunsthalle Nurnbeg, Germany.
Black uses mostly traditional art-making materials such as plaster, paint, paper and chalk in her work, along with a small amount of substances such as cosmetics and toiletries. Her sculptures are either 'almost' or 'only just' objects and skirt amongst the mediums of painting, performance art and installation, often contrasting large scale with a fragility of form. Karla utilizes and plays with the physical properties of a wide arrange of materials. These materials could range from house hold items such as hand soap and toothpaste, but also traditional supplies like plaster and cellophane. Black uses these materials in an aesthetically pleasing, yet raw and unformed way. Her pieces show plasters and lotions smeared on the exhibit floor along with chalk crushed in small piles placed on fabric. Although Black identifies as a sculptor, her use of everyday matter mixed with traditional art materials works to expand the parameters of sculpture. According to Black, her works exists and operates as "almost painting, almost installation, almost performance art." Artists who have influenced her work include Helen Frankenthaler, Karen Kilimnick, Lynda Benglis, Robert Smithson and Richard Tuttle.
In one of her pieces titles "Made to Wait" (2009), a cellophane sheet is seen floating as an invisible screen with a band of paint and other cosmetic products are smeared over it, covering its lower half. According to the Guggenheim, this piece is "elusive and stable" while "the work is grounded in its materiality as a physical experience and resists any metaphorical or symbolic meaning."
Exhibitions Karla Black's artwork has been in solo exhibitions at institutions such as the Kestnergesellschaft in Hanover, Germany; the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia; the Gemeentemuseum, The Hague; the Dallas Museum of Art; and the Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow. Black represented Scotland at the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011.