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Karen Bottle Capps


Born in Malvern, Arkansas, Karen “Bottle” Capps spent most of her childhood years combing through treasures at the city dump. Pulling from this heap of piling trash, Karen created the first of many found object collages, using doll heads, broken Matchbox cars, bottle caps, and the occasional fork on a backdrop of mud to form her masterpiece. From there, the art of dump diving became her passion, transforming one man’s trash into her own personal form of folk art.

At the age of 57, Karen has spent countless hours unlearning the formal lessons imposed upon her by ruthless art dictators, aka masters. Now she focuses on combining screen printing with multi-media collages, creating art that is at once universal and personal. “I hope my work takes the viewer back to a time or place from their past. I want them to have a relationship with the piece. The emotional experience can be funny, ridiculous, curious, fantastical, or even sad, as long as it engages the viewer and encourages them to make the piece a part of themselves.” A reflection of herself, the work is deeply Southern in its appeal: “It’s like a collection of my own childhood experiences,” she says, “but each individual viewer reacts to it, bringing in their own personal identity.”

As of late, Karen has shown works in galleries and stores throughout the South, including L. Ross Gallery, Buckman Performing Arts Center, Circuit Playhouse, Otherlands, Central BBQ, Cathead Folkart Store, and the Clinton Museum Store. One of her more recent projects was partnering with students from West Memphis High School through Delta Arts to create a six-foot sculpture of their mascot, the blue devil, fully equipped with students’ personal items, such as toys, old cell phones, and jewelry.

When not making art, Karen can be found either noodling on the Wolf River or trying to coax her favorite chicken, Butter, into laying slightly larger eggs.