Skip to main content
Michigan State University
Spartan Sagas
Anne Marie Karlsen
Alumna, 1974
Los Angeles, California
Read Transcript

Anne Marie Karlsen

Public displays of artistic expression.

Alumna, 1974
Los Angeles, California


For artists, there is perhaps no greater dream than having their work viewed daily by the public. That dream is a reality for alumna and celebrated public artist Anne Marie Karlsen, who believes art can change the world.

Karlsen, who earned a bachelor of fine arts with high honor and a bachelor’s in art education and special education from Michigan State University, is now a professor of art at Santa Monica College. She is well known for her public art installation “Kaleidoscope Dreams,” a nearly 4,000-square-foot piece located in the North Hollywood Red Line Subway Station in Los Angeles that encompasses 14 circular and semicircular ceramic tile wall installations patterned after a kaleidoscope wheel.

“The wide visibility is the greatest attraction for me as a public artist,” says Karlsen, whose work includes nearly 30 commissioned public art installations. “Being readily accessible and seen by thousands of people daily is, quite honestly, exciting. In a museum, my work is only accessible to the limited numbers of people who visit it and is probably viewed by even less. With public art, the numbers of people who see and can interact with my art is incredible.”

A self-described cultural archaeologist, Karlsen says she hopes in an age of mobile devices and text messaging that she can give people in transit something visually engaging to contemplate—if only for a moment.