Karen Thiessen grew up in a small rural Russian Mennonite community in Southern Ontario surrounded by tomato, soybean, wheat, and corn fields on the outskirts of Leamington. Leaving country life behind, she earned a degree in fine art and psychology at the University of Windsor (BA 1987), followed by a textiles diploma from the Sheridan College School of Craft and Design (1996). A year in Singapore preceded a move to Halifax, Nova Scotia where she earned a BFA in Textiles and Art History at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (1999). She resided in Hamilton from 1990 to 1996 and after a five year hiatus returned in 2001. From 2002 to 2004, she was an artist-in-residence in the Harbourfront Centre textile studio in Toronto. Karen is committed to ongoing professional development and with this in mind, she has been studying collage at the Dundas Valley School of Art since 2005.
Since 1992, Karen has maintained an active exhibition schedule and a few exhibition highlights include Red at the Textile Museum of Canada in 2001, Wide Borders at the Burlington Art Centre in 2003, Fibreworks 2000, 2002, and 2006. Karen represented Canada in the Unity and Diversity show at the Cheongju International Craft Biennale 2009, Cheongju, Korea. Her work can be found in numerous public and private collections in Canada and England. She was represented by YHZ Gallery in Halifax from 2000 until it closed in 2004. Karen is represented by the Carnegie Gallery in Dundas, Ontario.