Tag: Matt Thorsen

2001 | Bad Ju Ju

From 1999 – 2002 Jenn was the lead vocalist, songwriter and band leader for Bad Ju Ju. The band performed in Burlington, Vermont at Club Metronome, Higher Ground, Red Square, South End Art Hop and Half Lounge. For most of the time the band was together they were working on this album.

Jenn Karson’s (solo) debut paints vivid images with its gorgeous sounding songs. Karson’s lyrics are aptly summed up by the song title “Dark and Quirky”. The opener “Isle Blue” has a lovely tune and tells a haunting tale. “Monster” has an amusing but scary image of unrequited love. Karson has plenty of great songs on offer. This is a very good record by a gifted artist.

Collected Sounds

…Back with a fresh, more laid-back sound than in her previous band, Karson seems at ease in her solo shoes….I can’t get over how commanding Karson’s vocals are, and she has stepped up to the plate with strong songs that match her performance.

Seven Days Newspaper

…a good record…local music nicely produced.

Burlington Free Press

Bad Ju Ju can be streamed on iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, SoundCloud and more.

Band photos taken for the album. Pictured here Jenn Karson, Shawn Roberts, Aram Bedrosian, Gretchen Leisenring.
Photo credit: Don O’Connell.
Photo credits Matt Thorsen, Micheal Sipe, Don O’Connell.

2011 – 2015 | Vermont Makers

Vermont Makers contribute to local and international conversations about the confluence of art, science and technology. Jenn and her cofounders have contributed to exhibits, public program and maker faires. Members of Vermont Makers were key to the creation of collaborative tech spaces such as the UVM FabLab and the Generator Makerspace, both thrive to this day. In the summer of 2014 and under Jenn’s leadership, Vermont Makers produced 28 programs for Vermont libraries as part of Spark a Culture of Innovation, most of which were in rural locations. The program was widely praised for bringing creative experiential STEAM pedagogy to the far corners of the state. Read more about Vermont Makers.

Building a Community

Photo: Matt Thorsen

When Jenn Karson cofounded the Vermont Makers community last fall, all she wanted was to find people who shared her interests, namely using open-source technologies such as the Arduino to make art. She never expected so many enthusiasts to explode out of the woodwork.

It all started with a Twitter feed. After attending a code camp at UVM, Karson tweeted that she was looking for members to join an Arduino user group. One person contacted her, then another. When they were three, they wrote the Vermont Makers charter and published it in a Google group. Twenty people signed up, and Karson was contacted by Ken Howell at Champlain College, who offered them a place to gather.

In this digital age, face-to-face contact is still crucial when it comes to building a community. “Without that, I don’t think it would be flourishing,” says (John) Cohn. And physical gatherings are crucial to Vermont Makers’ mission, which includes hosting meet-ups, workshops and even a monthly book club (July’s book is Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age by Douglas Rushkoff).

Karson and co. decided to hold their first meet-up immediately after a talk at Champlain College by the California algorithmic artist Casey Reas, whose work was exhibited at the BCA Center. A rock star in the maker world, Reas creates his organic abstractions using the open-source software platform he developed specifically for visual artists, called Processing.

It was a smart move — 40 people showed up for Reas’ talk, and 60 came to the maker meet-up afterward. Vermont Makers was off the ground.

“My interest is creating a community that is made up of tech, arts and science people who come together to share ideas,” says Karson.

-Seven Days Newspaper, Vermont Hackers, Artists and Inventors are Sharing Ideas — and Solving Problems, 2012.

Vermont Librarians and Makers Spark a Culture of Innovation


Artist Statement

In my work with datasets and machine learning, I aspire to the mathematical play of M.C. Escher, the rhizomic science of John Cage, and the poetry and kindness of Yoko Ono. The datasets I make are run through artist-authored, non-hierarchical, and computational systems to create artworks existing in and oscillating between sensual and computational worlds. In a time of political polarization and rapid technological change, these artworks join larger conversations about what we understand to be natural, how we determine what is right, and the systems and grids that structure our public and private lives.


Jenn Karson is an interdisciplinary artist, producer, curator, and educator. Her current work is focused on artist-made datasets.

At the University of Vermont, she is the director of the UVM Fablab and on the School of the Arts faculty. She founded and leads the UVM Art and Artificial Intelligence Research Group. In Vermont, she is known for founding the Burlington art, science, and technology group Vermont Makers and as a performing musician; In the late 1990s and early 2000s, she released two full-length albums and three EPs of original music with her band Bad Ju Ju and with the legendary all-female rock band, Zola Turn.

Karson received an MFA in Design and Technology with honors from the San Francisco Art Institute and a BA in Political and Environmental Sciences at the University of Vermont. 

Photo credit: Bailey Beltramo, 2022.


Follow jennkarson.studio on Twitter.

Foundation Profile (NFT sales and exchanges)

Pronouns: She/Her