Karen Earle Lile

Photography by Michael J. Kofford

Conceptual Artist

Karen Earle Lile’s path to thinking began with honors programs and a Mensa memberships at the age of 8 years old. By the time she had graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree with Highest Honors in English from the University of Texas at Austin, she had studied physics with Steven Weinberg, studied history, rhetoric, philosophy, anthropology, sociology, art history, musicology, chemistry, biology and art. Her path to multi-disciplinary research and thinking began with innovative honors programs within traditional public and private schools. She began creating conceptual art in 1987. From 1996-2023 she was the conceptual artist for the United States Postal Service Building Bridges Special Postal Cancellation Series and is currently in planning stages with USPS and Royal Mail for possible future collaborations between the USA and UK.


Karen Earle Lile comes from a heritage of genealogists and historians. Her ancestors preserved and recorded historical records in England, Ireland, Norway, France, Germany, Spain, Scotland for more than a thousand years and in America since 1630. Her grandmother was a historian and also leader in several heritage societies and introduced her to historical record keeping and research from a young age. She did additional studies in genealogical vaults on special projects as well as research in the Yale University Rare Book and Manuscript Library and other University and private library collections around the world. Her work as a provenance researcher and historian of pianos has been a part of her work with Piano Finders since 1982. She is a piano appraiser as well, having been commissioned by educational institutions, insurance companies, collectors, CPAs and attorneys on various projects.

Photography by Michael J. Kofford


Karen Lile is partner and co-founder in the Piano Finders business with Kendall Ross Bean. She has been actively involved in every aspect of conservation for the modification of pianos built between 1850 to 1980 to preserve their original sound design and appearance. Lile and Bean have worked together to create methods of preserving not only the physical history of the pianos, but their cultural history from an ontological perspective. Lile and Bean have documented over 3,500 pianos and served as forensic expert witnesses in cases were pianos were stolen or lost. As a scholar, she contributes to international academic peer reviewed journals on topics of conservation for not only pianos, but conceptual art connected to pianos and other art objects. She is a member of the International Network for the Conservation of Contemporary Art and of the Preservation Artisans Guild.