National Small Works ended on Sunday, but we’re already excited about next year! Hannah Phelps, our first-prize winner and next year’s solo exhibiting artist sent us her artist statement so we can all get to know her and her work a little better:
As a native of ruggedly beautiful northern New England, my art is the result of continuous exploration of the world outside my window and the forces at work there. I am striving to keep the feeling of the forest, the rhythm of the waves and the warmth of the sun with me, even when I have to return indoors.
The rough woodgrain in white-line woodcut prints mimics their subject – the rocky coast or wild woods. Interlocking shapes create the scene, but they don’t fit together perfectly. The irregular white lines enhance the separation between me and my print, and me and my environment.
The simplicity of using plywood and one simple knife to create a design is a challenge I cannot ignore. Using watercolor, I “ink” each shape and transfer the design to paper tough enough to take a firm rubbing with a wooden spoon. The resulting print is two-dimensional, but paper also digs its way into the white lines, adding a sculptural element. The block can be printed several times, but no two will ever really be alike, so each piece becomes a combination of print and original painting.
Because I often depict places I have visited my entire life, the work becomes about more than “capturing one moment in time”, as landscape artists often say, but instead capturing all the moments I have spent in that spot and synthesizing them into one painting or one print. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t keep my past from creeping into my work.
And in the attempt to depict the present and past experiences, my work contains notes for my future self – “This is where you have been. This is who you were. Remember?”