The Artistic Journey of Photographer Karen Halverson

Hite Crossing, Lake Powell, Utah (1988) | Smithsonian American Art Museum

Karen Halverson, born on this day September 3, 1941 in Syracuse, New York, has made an impression on the world of photography. Her unique perspective on the American landscape has been widely recognized and celebrated. Currently based in Studio City, California, she imparts her vast knowledge and experience to students at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.

Halverson started her career in New York where she made a name for herself with her candid street photographs, particularly in the city’s bustling Garment District during the 1970s.

“To me, all the elements in and on the landscape have equal value in terms of suggesting how we live in a particular environment.”

– Karen Halverson

Over the last quarter of a century, Halverson’s photographic work has been centered around the American West. Her photographs are a commentary on how we engage with, inhabit, and modify the landscape. She beautifully captures the many sides of any given situation, without resorting to polemics.

One of Halverson’s most significant series of photographs is centered on the Colorado River system. Here, she strikes a delicate balance between the natural splendor of the river and the human exploitation of its resources. Her work is a blend of beauty, desecration, and often an intriguing mix of the two.

Recognition and Publications

In 2010, Yale University’s Beinecke Library recognized Halverson’s significant contribution to photography by acquiring her complete body of work. Her work has been featured in numerous publications, including:

  1. Mulholland: MW Editions, New York,2021
  2. Downstream: Encounters with the Colorado River, University of California Press, 2008


Halverson’s work is featured in several esteemed collections, including:

  1. Los Angeles County Museum of Art
  2. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
  3. The Huntington Library and Art Galleries, San Marino, CA
  4. J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA
  5. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University

Reception and Influence

Karen Halverson’s work continues to inspire generations of photographers. Her ability to capture the essence of the American landscape and its interaction with human life is unparalleled.

The photographic journey of Karen Halverson is a testament to her artistic vision and dedication. Her work, from her early days in New York’s Garment District to her exploration of the American West, embodies her unique perspective on the world. Her legacy continues to inspire and educate future generations of photographers.


  1. Woman Photographers (New York: Abrams, 1990) by Merry A. Foresta, Stephen Jay Gould, and Karal Ann Marling
  2. Between Home and Heaven: Contemporary American Landscape Photography (Washington, D.C. and Albuquerque, New Mexico: The National Museum of American Art in association with the University of New Mexico Press, 1992)


  1. Karen Halverson’s Official Website
  2. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University

Curated by Jennifer