Artist Q&A: Brad Widness

Brad Widness is one of the artists featured in the New Faces, New Prints exhibition, and has been mentioned in this blog before.  Read on to find out a little about Brad’s process and prints:

"Line, Rope, Ladder-Alone" by Brad Widness, on view in October's exhibition

1. You say that your work is “interior landscape of memory and imagination juxtaposed against the physical spaces in which we move and act.”  Where do your prints normally start—with a memory or imagination, or the physical space?  What draws you to that starting imagery?

My prints begin with the ordinary things in my immediate surroundings, in the space I normally find myself in. This could include a visual suggestion from something I read, photographs in newspapers or magazines or even the internet, but most often it comes from the physical space and objects I live with. A scrap, a space intriguingly offset by light and shadow, an object that with extremely mundane properties can become mysterious. It is the eternal present wherever I find myself that is my inspiration. Everything has the potential to be seen as extraordinary, and most particularly the things one sees every day. As the image is drawn, carved, etched, colored, and effaced it takes on a life of its own, separate from the environment that gave the initial inspiration. The etched and manipulated plate and print matrix begin to tell a different tale, one more mysterious and enigmatic, beginning to express a deeper memory, imagination and content. Images that are hard to find, elements found by mistake like those encountered in a dreamlike state are a part of one’s deepest self and identity. I seek to create images that contain a sense of things past and experience of the present moment together.

"Behind the Wall-Becoming" by Brad Widness - on view in October's exhibition

2.  You have worked with and taught Digital Media and Design, but continue to rely on very traditional printmaking techniques.  Have the two methods influenced each other at all?  If so, how, and if not, what keeps them separate for you?

Although it is not immediately obvious, working and teaching in digital images has impacted my printmaking a great deal. It has made me more aware of how images are framed, how the context of an image changes the way it is perceived, and especially how dramatically different the sense of space and time is in a visual image compared to actual physical space and time. The use of photographs in my work as a result of new technologies has helped me express more convincingly the incredible flat and transitory nature of anything we receive from the digital world. Working with digital tools has increased, as well my sensibility of how critical it is to create imagery using more traditional / physical and direct printmaking means – along with being keenly aware of the unique perception of reality and space that is of the digital age – our age and era. The physical, visceral process of making images with actual depth and texture is more important to me than ever

"Light Studio" by Brad Widness, on view in the October exhibition

3. Your prints have a wonderful depth to them, and in many you use multiple techniques such as polymer plates, chine colle, and traditional etching.  Can you describe your process as you develop a plate?

Unplanned or surprising juxtapositions of things that I see or experience in the world are usually the starting place for my work. I begin with sketchbook studies to experiment with how I can translate these thoughts and feelings into a visual matrix. The sketches are sometimes transferred to a plate directly, other times they become the inspiration for direct carving or etching onto the plate. I have also been using more photographs as a way of starting to work an image. I often layer two or more images on top of each other to see what the effect will be, then work with subtractive methods like scraping or stenciling out areas. I deliberately seek out unplanned combinations and surprises in order to arrive at a solution I could not have foreseen from the start of my original idea.
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