Artist Q&A: Terry Svat

Last July WPG artist member Terry Svat brought her unique print collages on canvas to the gallery, and has been busy ever since with new projects. Read on to learn a little bit more about the work she has been doing over the past year, her studio, and her process.

One of Terry's Print Collages

WPG: It’s been almost a year since your solo exhibition “The Unbroken Line: A Cast of Characters” at WPG, which used iconic and archetypal imagery to deal with themes of life, death, and rebirth.  Are you still creating prints in this theme, or has your work shifted?

Svat: After my exhibit in July, there should have been a real let down, but because I had to produce two editions of etchings, one of 75 and one of 20, this didn’t happen. However, when all of that was finished, the let down feeling arrived. All the energy that went into gearing up for the exhibit; exploring ideas, making the prints, getting all prints framed and ready, invitations printed, making price list, final prep-the hanging, reception and the month it is in the gallery.  Then… POOF… nothing.    This is the general path that I take after exhibits. It is okay to be able to unwind, and let yourself go. Time off is healthy.

Now I am back in the grove or at least I feel that I might be in he grove.

Installation shot and print collage by Terry Svat

Installation Shot and Print Collage by Terry Svat

Having found some drawers that were taken from my old kitchen and saved for just this occasion, I began working.  I removed all the nails and knobs, prepped, painted and then set to work thinking of how to cover it.  I made copies of my canvas prints and attached them to the back of the drawer.  (See image, above and to the right)

I found a piece of plexi that I cut to the size of the drawer and I am in the process of etching images of trees from around my neighborhood.  These trees have a peculiar fascination for me since they have been severely pruned due to the overhead electrical wiring.   I think this is still in keeping with the idea of birth, life, death, and rebirth. Hopefully I will be able to print this image on a piece of Mylar and attach it to front of the drawer, which will be about five inches in front of the canvas images.

WPG: A lot of your work is either on or incorporates hand-made paper. What draws you to this material?

I have used hand made paper for many years and for most of that time I made it myself. I still do it the old way using a household blender, my own screens, and felts.

Hand made paper is a real pleasure to work with. I love the look, texture, and overall feel of it. I have found that making my own is even more special for I can alter the size, shape, and color of it to fit the image I am about to print. If you look very closely, you can find maybe one or two pieces of handmade paper in the canvas images from my last exhibit but that was difficult to do because the papers I used needed to be thin.

"Renewal China" by Terry Svat, solarplate etching and hand drawing

I had more luck using hand made paper with the series on Earthquakes. It lent itself to the fragility of the image, the event, and then my process.

WPG: You work a fair amount with solarplate, which is a non-toxic etching process. Have you experimented with other non-toxic printmaking processes, and if so, what have the results been like? You also share a studio with several other printmakers—are all of you moving towards non-toxic printmaking? Why or why not?

Svat: Yes we have an almost toxic free studio. In the 90’s, we found that we were getting coughs, sore throats, skin problems and the like, and had known for some time how toxic all the materials, solvents were that we were using. We finally bit the bullet. We decided to change over. But that presented a problem. We were all etchers using zinc or copper and acids and solvents to clean up.

We discovered Keith Howard’s method of etching without using acid and toxic solvents called ImagOn.  It a photopolymer method of printing using UV light, either sun light or photo floods.    He called it non-toxic intaglio printing. Later on we took a one-day workshop in solar plate etching and now have adopted that as our preferred method of printing. It is a more direct method of printing since the plate ready to use and needs no preparation.


One response to “Artist Q&A: Terry Svat

  1. Interesting to hear of the photopolymer method.