Karen Blessen

Karen Blessen (born 1951) is an American graphic artist. She won the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting in 1989 for work together with David Hanners and William Snyder on a special section called "Anatomy of an Air Crash." She was the first graphic artist to win a Pulitzer Prize.


Karen Blessen was born in 1951. She lives in Dallas, TX. She has also lived in Lincoln, NE and Columbus, NE. She has been married to Kelly G. Nash since February 6, 2003.[1]


After graduating Columbus High School, Blessen graduated with a BFA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Columbus.[2]

Honors and achievements

In 1989, was a graphic artist at The Dallas Morning News. Beginning a decade later she started adding writing to her art work at the journal. This included ‘One Bullet,’ which was both a story and art package following the emotional aftermath of a murder that took place outside of her home in 2003. For this she was given an Honorable Mention in the Texas Associated Press Managing Editor’s competition.

In 1994 she received the distinct honor by New York City’s Times Square Business Improvement District to create a signature look for the New Times Square.[3]

In 1999-2000 New Year’s Eve, Blessen headed a crew team of ‘Times Square Confetti and Airborne Materials Engineers,’ dropping three tons of confetti onto the crowd of celebrants below. Again she both wrote and illustrated a story detailing the experience, entitled ‘Diary of a Confetti Engineer,’ which appeared on January 16, 2000 in The Dallas Morning News. She won a Katie Award at the Advocate for a cover she did in October 2007 illustrating the Trinity Tollroad story.[4]

Blessen set up 29 Pieces which is an art organization that mounted the largest public art project in Dallas' history as a tribute to President John F. Kennedy.[5] She also co-founded Today Marks the Beginning – a not-for-profit organization that uses art to generate awareness of social issues.

In 2010, Blessen was selected by the Dallas Observer as one of three MasterMinds of the Arts in Dallas, as part of the publication’s first MasterMinds competition.[6] In 2015, she was on the panel of judges for the District 30 Congressional Art Competition held at the Janette Kennedy Gallery.[7]


Blessen illustrated Peace One Day, published by G. P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers in 2005, which is a book for children about the creation of World Peace Day, in reference to 9/11.[8] She also was the graphic artist for the book Be An Angel, published by Simon and Schuster in 1994.

Humanitarian effort

Blessen went to Africa to work with Save the Children. In 2002, she went to Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa, interviewing women dealing with HIV/AIDS, producing ‘Faces of a Plague’ – a story and illustration of what she discovered – that was published in The Dallas Morning News and thereafter adapted for the Today Marks the Beginning theatrical production that raised more than $40,000 to "adopt" two villages in Malawi.

Blessen represented Texas in Absolut Statehood – a series of artworks commissioned by Absolut Vodka, benefiting the Design Industries Foundation for AIDS.[9]


  1. ^ "The Marriage of Kelly Nash and Karen Blessen". Texas Marriage Records. Retrieved 19 May 2015.
  2. ^ "Karen's Bio". My Life. Retrieved 19 May 2015.
  3. ^ "Karen Blessen Pulitzer Prize Winner". University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Retrieved 19 May 2015.
  4. ^ Wamre, Rick. "Neighborhood artist makes Observer front page". Advocate Mag. Retrieved 19 May 2015.
  5. ^ "Great Peacemakers with Artist and Journalist Karen Blessen". Facebook. Retrieved 19 May 2015.
  6. ^ "Karen Blessen Bio" (PDF). Dallas Love Project.
  7. ^ Robinson, Yinka. "Congresswoman Johnson Hosts the District 30 Congressional Art Competition". EBJohnson. Retrieved 19 May 2015.
  8. ^ "Peace One Day". Amazon. Retrieved 19 May 2015.
  9. ^ Blessen, Karen. "About the Artist". Karen Blessen. Retrieved 19 May 2015.
1989 Pulitzer Prize

Winners of the 1989 Pulitzer Prize by Category

Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting

The Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting has been presented since 1998, for a distinguished example of explanatory reporting that illuminates a significant and complex subject, demonstrating mastery of the subject, lucid writing and clear presentation. From 1985 to 1997, it was known as the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism.

The Pulitzer Prize Board announced the new category in November 1984, citing a series of explanatory articles that seven months earlier had won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing. The series, "Making It Fly" by Peter Rinearson of The Seattle Times, was a 29,000-word account of the development of the Boeing 757 jetliner. It had been entered in the National Reporting category, but judges moved it to Feature Writing to award it a prize. In the aftermath, the Pulitzer Prize Board said it was creating the new category in part because of the ambiguity about where explanatory accounts such as "Making It Fly" should be recognized. The Pulitzer Committee issues an official citation explaining the reasons for the award.

William Snyder (photojournalist)

William Snyder is an American photojournalist and former Director of Photography for The Dallas Morning News. Snyder won a Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism in 1989 along with reporter David Hanners and artist Karen Blessen for their special report on a 1985 airplane crash, the follow-up investigation, and the implications for air safety. In 1991, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography for his pictures of ill and orphaned children living in desperate conditions in Romania. In 1993, Snyder and Ken Geiger won the Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography for their photographic coverage of the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. As Photo Director he oversaw the Morning News photo staff's 2006 Pulitzer-winning coverage of Hurricane Katrina. In the Spring of 2008, Snyder took the buyout at The Dallas Morning News and returned to his alma mater, the Rochester Institute of Technology, where he is now the chair in the Photojournalism BFA program.

World Sensorium

World Sensorium is a natural and inclusive world scent, a work of olfactory art by interdisciplinary artist Gayil Nalls, who is based in New York. A large-scale conceptual project and social sculpture, the world scent comprises the most culturally significant scents of 225 countries combined proportionally according to the statistical population data of the year 2000. World Sensorium has been recognized by UNESCO and the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities as a global peace project and has been internationally exhibited in large public events, museums and galleries since its creation in 1999.

The research for the creation of World Sensorium established smells from natural flora that triggered olfactory memory for the majority of people of each nation, with the goal of interpreting the relationship between world flora and human numbers on earth, and to bring new awareness of the living world and its influence on the human spirit and psyche. Through this work, Nalls has sought to foster an understanding of the larger evolutionary social construct of knowledge we share with others via the senses.

The project of World Sensorium can be categorized as a contribution to the genres of Olfactory Art and Aesthetics, Participatory art, and environmental art and functions along the trajectories of avant-garde and political or activist art.

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