Ground Zero Printmakers

Ground Zero Printmakers at the Art Centre at Cedar Hill, Victoria, BC.

Check out Ground Zero Printmakers show at the Arts Centre at Cedar Hill, May 21-June 3.

It showcases a diversity of approaches and printmaking techniques with a self-portrait theme.

I did a 16″ x 24″ serigraph.   It was a difficult project to start, but had a happy ending.

Blog MMI Self Portrait

1/5    Self Portrait 2015  

Several Ground Zero members gave short talks at the Opening on May 23rd.  It was fascinating to hear the different approaches.  My artist talk discussed my intention, and my journey through the self-portrait process.  Here it is.

A long time ago, about 150 years ago, I was a student at the Alberta College of Art and Design.  I say it was that long time ago because the tuition for a year at ACAD was 85 dollars.  I am not making that up!  Needless so say, I certainly got my 85 bucks worth.

One of the many excellent studio courses I took  was printmaking.  It covered all the printmaking basics of that era.  Well, I hated most of it….especially serigraph, or as it’s more commonly known, silk screen.

Way too much planning, technical stuff, process, and careful planning.  And lots of messy inks that you had to be VERY careful with.

So it’s kind of an ironic that I’m speaking today about my serigraph self-portrait.  Now, I truly love all the things I first hated about printmaking.  Age has given me patience and understanding.

Now I have a beautiful press, and a light filled studio where I print make, paint and draw.  My art practice is fairly broad.  I like to try new things in printmaking.

The trajectory of this particular print project started out with painful indecision.  Basically, I procrastinated til almost the eleventh hour.   As I said, printmaking usually involves planning so I knew I had to bite the bullet.

Originally I planned a small etching…. familiar printmaking territory for me.  My vision was a highly detailed image that involved my usual cast of quirky characters, a fantastic background, with me in there somewhere, a behind the scene etched plate puppet master.  But the more I imagined it, the more I couldn’t see it.

So I lay down that idea, put it aside, and spent time thinking about my first serious start in the studio, back in the high school art room.

I got thinking about a huge stenciled poster sized portrait my best friend in high school did of me.  We both loved art, and hung out a lot in the art room. That big portrait hung in my bedroom for years.  And that strong memory got me interested in doing the screen print.

So I took some photos.  I converted what I thought was the most compelling into an image that was interesting to me.  When I pulled the first print, I was shocked!  First of all, it was a perfect print.  And it actually looks a lot like my youngest daughter, or a younger me.  The image takes about 30 years off.  It’s great!  But it also gave the project a much greater resonance for me.

So my self-portrait is a kind of a memorial to the high school art room and a deep friendship from that time.  It’s my recognition of the impatience of youth,  the passage of time, and the transient nature of beauty and youth.

The image also has an enigmatic and peaceful daydreaming quality that transcends the singularity of a self portrait.  It’s the eyes closed that both hide, and reveal.

There are certainly other threads of meaning in this piece for me.  Serigraph was popularized as fine art by Andy Warhol.  When I was coming of age, Andy Warhol was producing a lot of huge serigraphs of celebrities and other well-known figures.  They were very popular at the time.  And they still are, fetching huge sums in the art market.

There was another serigraph artist working at the same time whose work I admire.  Sister Mary Corita Kent or, Sister Mary.  Her work has less to do about the future “…..where everyone will be famous for 15 minutes”. She was of the moment in the ferment of the 60’s.  She was involved in the Peace Movement.  Her work celebrates peace, equality and has deep humanity.  It’s light and playful, with a direct simplicity.

Now, here’s the ending to this story.  I do not work alone. My printmaking projects are made both pleasurable and possible because of my technical guru and studio assistant,  Andrew Loen.   Or as he affectionately calls himself, Studio Slave.

I also benefit from the expert guidance and encouragement of Alain Costaz and Victoria Edgarr at Ground Zero, and the print artists there who inspire my practice.  And finally, I thank our courageous and hardworking curator, Agnes Ananichuk.  

Community Arts Council at Cedar Hill Art Centre

Ground Zero Printmakers

Sister Mary

Warhol Museum

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