Thursday, September 30, 2010
Continued work on basement collagraph: 5 hours
Printing plate: 2 hours
Drawing: 5 hours
In the basement, there is a blue wooden door. It has two old metal locks, and I have to hit them with a hammer to knock it open. The steps are concrete, 3 of them, leading up to the storm door at the back of the house. There are spiders in the corners, and Dad kept beer on the bottom step, before we had a fridge in the garage. I tasted it once, on his lap at the kitchen table, I don't know how many years ago. He was playing cards with Mr. Jim, but the room was dark. It tasted gross, I thought so for a long time. But late at night, sometimes I come home and he's still awake, sitting at the kitchen table, a beer in his hand, an empty on the counter, and he'll ask if I want one. I'll say yes, and he'll pour it into a mug and tell me stories that I've never heard before. He'll tell me about the morning in May, that Grandpa died, how they carried his body out into the rain, let the sky pour onto him because that's what he would have wanted. He'll tell me about the drive down to Texas, when he was 19, pulling the trailer behind the rusty bronco, how Uncle Dominic flipped it going down a hill and wouldn't drive the rest of the trip. And there is still so much that I don't know, maybe never will, but I think the stories are still there, in corners and closets, in the cracks between floorboards, in the house that still stands above the blue door in the basement.
At the end of last week, I began working on this collagraph plate. While I was working on the plate, I did some free-writing about the memories that were surfacing in response to the image. To experiment with text, I carved my writing into the plate. Although it is not totally legible in the prints, the text does add an element of story. It makes the image seem a little creepy and unknown. I do enjoy the look of the text, but I'm not sure if it's fair to the viewer that it isn't fully legible. I think I need to keep playing with how to incorporate text with prints because I like how they work with one another.
I've also continued to draw images from my house, remembering the places I liked to be. I've been thinking about the spaces, kind of walking through my childhood home as if it were a dream. I'm amazed at how much these drawings have helped me remember my house the way I experienced it as a child, and I want to continue moving forward with them. My favorite image is the last drawing, of the bedroom I shared with my sister when I was young. This drawing feels completely right to me, the way I used to feel when I lived in that room. So I'm planning to make a print based on that drawing. I also want to look at some artists' books to help me think of ways to incorporate text.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space
Reading/Research: 7 hours
Sketching: 3 hours
New collagraph plate: 5 hours
This past week, I read through The Poetics of Space, by Gaston Bachelard and found it very insightful. I was shocked at how much I agreed with what he was saying. The connections he made between home, memory, childhood and solitude make so much sense to me, and I was inspired by his thoughts on the attic and the basement. I agree that there is something about ascending and descending stairs that creates a familiar and unforgettable connection. So, thinking about my own memories, I made a few sketches about my connections with upstairs and downstairs. I was really drawn to the sketch of the open basement door, so I began making a collagraph from that image.
Next, I plan to continue working on the collagraph and have it printed by Tuesday. I would also like to play around with incorporating text into the prints. I still don't know if I want text to be included with the image, but I think experimenting with it is the only way to decide. I also plan to continue sketching and looking into the books mentioned in class - Landscape and Memory by Simon Schama, Psychology of the House by Olivier Marc, and Life: A User's Manuel by Georges Perec. Hopefully, these books will continue to give me insight and keep my ideas moving forward.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Evan Summer is a contemporary printmaker who has spent over 35 years making prints. He completed his first degree in chemistry at New York College at Cortland before studying painting, printmaking and drawing at the University of Buffalo. It was during this time that he began making collagraphs. This process of building up materials led to Evan's interest in collage work. After completing his B.F.A., he attended graduate school at Yale University, where he started to focus on etching. He is currently a Professor at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania.
Evan's work is influenced by his childhood, specifically his frequent trips to Niagara Falls with his parents. His etchings depict barren landscapes, often a mixture of man-made structures with nature. The images in his work come from the landscape surrounding the waterfalls and the nearby hydroelectric plants. Evan recalls childhood fears and dreams of being lost in an abandoned building or an unknown place. It is these memories and fears from childhood that have propelled him to create these unknown places that don't exist and seem to have been lost in time.
I feel compelled into these worlds that Evan has created. I am so fascinated by the emptiness in the landscape, yet there seems to be a desire for life, or a sense, at least that it once existed there. I respond deeply to the structures he creates, and the wonderful sense of light and dark that balances each image. There is a great depth and suggestion of eternity in his landscapes.
Evan's work is very precise and structured. His etchings often go through 10 to 20 stages, and he sometimes spends over a year working on a single plate. He works accurately and diligently, line by line. Although I do not have the same patience and precision with my work that Evan does, I have the same desire to create the places that I remember - both real and dreamlike. I really respond to Evan's influence for his work because I find that my influences also come from my childhood and the memory of home. I like this connection to the past and to the world that I lived in growing up. I am inspired by Evan's combination of reality with the imagined, and I hope to use that influence in my own work, to create my own spaces.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Making collagraph plate: 4 hours
Printing plate: 1 hour
Transparent blueprint memories: 3 hours
Last week I felt that I had no direction, and I was struggling to figure out where to begin. So I decided to make a small collagraph to get back into printing. I thought about the themes I wanted to explore, which got me thinking about my home, a place that holds so much of my life. It is more than just an architectural space - each room, piece of furniture, door, window, step, closet, all hold memories and take me back to the place I spent my childhood. Although it is no longer the home that I live in, it can never stop being the home I grew up in, where I formed my first memories.
This process of connection between home and childhood led me to create a blueprint of my house. Through this blueprint I made a collagraph, but I also used it to pinpoint certain memories that happened in specific spots of my house. I created a visual guide to recall memories that I had forgotten or buried. I was amazed at how quickly these memories came back when I was looking at a specific spot on the blueprint, so I created several layers of memories on tracing paper that overlay the blueprint. I think this process was very helpful, and I should move deeper with it, thinking more specifically about the objects within each room.
Next, I plan to continue printing and freewriting about home and memory. I think it would be beneficial for me to make drawings and studies that could eventually become prints. I want to think more about why the connections between objects, place, and memory are so strong for me, and about where I make the most connections. Through these thoughts I hope to learn more about myself and my intent as an artist so that I can make better decisions about the work I am creating. For this next week, I'd like to do a lot of sketching and begin working on my next plate, while also editing my first one.
This was my first collagraph, and I was very inspired after seeing Evan Summer's work. The space I created is a view from my house that I could see clearly in my mind. I wanted the space to be somewhat accurate, yet I left out certain walls to open up the space, to see through things. The stairs lead up to my bedroom, and I hoped to create a sense of comfort and familiarity that I get from this place.