For the Congressional Record
I rise to acknowledge a Vermont artist who is widely recognized and widely loved, Edward Koren.
This year the Vermont Council on the Arts is bestowing its Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts on this renowned graphic artist.
Mr. Koren carries on the long tradition of artists who publish their work in the mass media, using the techniques of drawing to comment on the lives that men and women lead. His distinguished nineteenth century antecedents include Honoré Daumier in France and Thomas Nast in the United States. Edward Koren is a cartoonist of the first order, having published more than 900 of his works in The New Yorker. His cartoons have appeared in other publications as well, ranging from The Nation, to the New York Times.
His work is remarkably distinctive, often focusing on shaggy figures engaged in everyday affairs. Their shaggy, hairy features are a personal signature; they embody the way he uses lines, the way his pen moves on paper. To see one of his cartoons on a page is to recognize it, instantly, as a "Koren," even before one knows its subject or reads the accompanying words or his name at the bottom of the cartoon.
Koren examines people in the midst of everyday life, revealing that he understands that reality consists not of something invented by movies or policy analysts, but rather what we encounter every day. He's a satirist of pretension, and deftly explores the neuroses of our times. Koren is a great chronicler of what the poet Wallace Stevens called "the malady of the quotidian."
David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, recently told the Burlington Free Press that "Ed Koren is one of the great original voices of cartooning…. I love his work, always have."
Edward Koren's work has been widely recognized by museums as well as the media which so often publish his cartoons. His work is in the Swann Collection at the Library of Congress, and also in the permanent collections of the Fogg Museum at Harvard, the Princeton University Museum, and the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge University.
Mr. Koren and his wife, Curtis, live in central Vermont. He long ago moved to our state for reasons he articulated recently: "I was captivated intensely by Vermont. There was a deep sense of community. I kept thinking, this is unusual in this society, this country. I had never come across this kind of closely compacted community. I was fleeing huge, giant-scaled cities without a real cohesive sense of place and connection. It turned out I was a country guy." Not surprisingly, Mr. Koren is a captain of the Brookfield, Vermont Volunteer Fire Department.
He is well deserving of the honor of receiving the Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts.