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Karen Sewell is a visual artist who works across media including sculpture, installation, photography, painting, sound, aroma and light. She lives and works in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, New Zealand.  Sewell is interested in the intersection of art with spiritual experience, in particular, human experiences of the *numinous.




Sewell graduated with a Master of Fine Arts (with Honours) in 2016 from Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design. She was the recipient of the Premier Award in the Waitakere Trust Art Award in 2011, and has been selected as a finalist in awards including The NZ Portrait Awards in 2012, the Wallace Art Awards in 2013, and the Glaister Ennor Graduate Awards in 2016. Sewell has exhibited work across New Zealand and internationally with a highlight being Luminary I Luminare in Personal Structures biennial exhibition at Palazzo Bembo, Venice, Italy, a collateral of the Venice Biennale.

Sewells unique offering artistically and professionally is through her creation of innovative artworks (often) in unexpected and alternative exhibition spaces as well as gallery spaces that offer the viewer the potential for an experience of the unseen and unknown. Photographic and painted artworks have emerged from the immersive space experience. The practices of the installation, photography, sculpture, painting, olfactory and sound, work together in combinations to achieve the exhibition experience.​

*Numinous speaks to everything within the realm of our experience which cannot be quantified, explained, or contained.  Our intuition, and our feeling-states, our connection to the cosmos, and for some a sense of the divine. 



Curriculum Vitae



Master of Fine Art Degree, Whitecliffe College of Art and Design, graduated with Honours, 2016

Advanced Diploma of Art and Design, Whitecliffe College of Art and Design, 2013



Judge, Waitakere Arts 50th Members Art exhibition, 2024

Judge, 35th Trusts Art Award, 2022


2024 Award winner  Merit Award Molly Morpeth Canaday Art Awards

2014-23 Commissioned Artist for New Zealand Unsung Hero Award trophies

2016 Finalist, Glaister Ennor Graduate Art Awards 

2013 Finalist, Wallace Trust Art Awards

2012 Finalist, Adam New Zealand Portrait Award

2011 Winner, Supreme Award, Waitakere Trust Arts and Sculpture Award (Painting)


Selected Solo and Group Exhibitions

Stardust (from my back yard), 2023, Whakatane Galleries, Molly Morpeth Canaday Art Awards Exhibition, Award Winner Merit Award, Feb - April 2024

Capturing what Cannot be Captured, Atelier Gallery, Whakatu, Nelson, solo show Oct-Nov, 2023

Luminary, 2023, Korschenbroich, Germany, May 2023

Celestial Event Series Astro Dawn, Civil Dawn & Dawn to Daybreak, 2021, lumens, Woman Made Gallery group exhibition, Nov - Dec 2022, Chicago, IL, USA

Luminary I Luminare, 2022, New Zealand Tour, Auckland/Dunedin/Christhchurch/Wellington, May - August, 2022

Luminary I Luminare presentation, Personal Structures, European Cultural Centre, Italy, Venice Biennale, 23 April - 27 Nov 2022, Curated by Sara Danieli and Lucia Pedrana

Luminary, NorthArt, Northcote, Auckland, New Zealand, 21 May - 3 July 2022 (solo exhibition)

Numinous Spheres, NorthArt, Northcote, Auckland, New Zealand, 2021 (solo exhibition)

Curated by Karen Sewell, Jonathan Organ and Jessica Pearless

Wonder Tree & Baade’s Window, Owhango Summer Sculpture Show, selected artist, Owhango, New Zealand 2020–21, Curated by Jonathan Organ and Jessica Pearless

In Paradise 2018 & Luminary (Intangible), 2021NZ Sculpture OnShore, selected artist, Fort Takapuna, Auckland, New Zealand, Curated by Anna Hanson 2018 and Sally Lush 2021

Awakenings IV, installation, Holy Trinity Cathedral, Parnell, Auckland, New Zealand, 2021 (solo exhibition)

Faux, The Wilderness Precinct, Featured artist, Festival One, Mystery Creek Events Centre, Hamilton, 2020, curated by Mark Pierson

Paradise Life, EA Arts and Music Festival, Featured artist, The Cloud, Queens Wharf, Auckland, New Zealand, March 2017, Curated by Cleo Barnett, Paris Kirby and Bronson Price

The Stand In, 2015, Glaister Ennor Graduate Award, Sanderson Contemporary Gallery, 2016, Curated by Kylie Sanderson

Adaptation: New Artists in a new space, Warwick Henderson Gallery, 2015, curated by Warwick Henderson 

Lost, 2015, TSB Bank Wallace Arts Trust, Pah Homestead, Auckland, New Zealand

2014 (solo exhibition), Curated by Nicholas Butler


Selected texts

McAvoy, Emil, “Levitation: The recent work of Karen Sewell”, Numinous Spheres exhibition catalogue, Northart, 2021

Torrance, Tamar, “Numinosity in the art of Karen Sewell”, Luminary publication, Venice, 2022

Shaw, Megan, "The lineage of Luminary: Wonder and the sphere in early modern art history (1400-1700)", Luminary publication, Venice, 2022

Brown, Judith, "Benediction: Theological resonances in Luminary I Luminare", Luminary publication, Venice, 2022

Represented in Art Collections

C. Hutchinson Collection 

The James Wallace Arts Trust

National and international private collections


Atelier Gallery Nelson

Co-Presenters for Venice and Aotearoa NZ Tour

NorthArt Gallery Auckland

The University of Otago

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