Tag Archives: New Prints

Artist Q&A: Matina Marki Tillman

Our final “Artist Q&A” for artists featured in our October exhibition, New Faces, New Prints.  Read on to learn more about our 2nd newest artist member, Matina Marki Tillman:

"First Stroke" solarplate etching with hand coloring by Matina Marki Tillman

WPG: The human figure is one of, if not the oldest subject in art, from cave drawings to modern times.  What drew you to this time honored imagery, and how does your work treat it differently than past artists?

TILLMAN:  Yes, the human figure is one of the oldest art subjects in existence, and it’s been recorded, studied, and interpreted extensively.  From the age of 2, I was drawn to the human figure in all forms; I was perceiving the world through figures.  For instance, my grandfather was the perfect rectangle, but from his cave-like eyes, little round things were popping out periodically.  I tried to sketch this – and these pictures were my grandfather.  Although the figure is a dominant element of my work, I’m actually attempting to go well beyond it; what’s happening or about to happen outside the boundaries of the print.  If what I’m feeling – perpetually challenged and amazed by the human subject at hand – is successfully transmitted, it should stimulate the dialogue between the viewer and the print.

I more or less treat my figures like I’m “directing” them in the small theatre that exists within the confines of the plate.  For me, the figure becomes the platform where another human fable begins, ends, or is suspended eternally.  Using as my drivers poetry and observation, and as my tools dramatized facial expressions and positions, and often theatre-like costumes, I try to create figures that can stand anywhere in time and space.  As a matter of fact, they could just live in own their in-between “reality” that shapes them, and gets shaped by their substance as well.  I can’t say for sure how much I differentiate the aspects either of the art world or of the human understanding with my figures – that will be up to the beholder.  I surely hope that I’ll manage to keep “a little corner in the immense ring of the human psyche” – that’s substantial for me.  From there, I’ll be trying over and over again to perceive the world, and share my perceptions, through these endlessly evolving figures.

WPG:  Your work is partly influenced by your studies of Greek medieval and modern literature.  Can we see any of these influences in the art in New Faces, New Prints, or perhaps in other pieces?

"Foreseen," solarplate etching by Matina Marki Tillman.

TILLMAN:  My studies and readings have definitely influenced my work.  In my prints, I meet again figures that I’ve studied and treasured earlier in my life mixed together with ongoing observations:  everyday people, myself, nearby strangers.  Poetry in every form – ancient Greek figures and symbols evolved and transformed within medieval epic poems and folk tales; famous and unknown poets’ and friends’ works; verses on a wall or a napkin – has inspired me to create individual pieces and unities.  For instance, from the Humanography series, “Humanography 2” is entirely inspired by a haunting single verse of poetry from a “cursed” modern Greek poet.   “Scripta II”, adopting the ancient Greek meaning of the word angel, which translates as messenger – he who announces – suggests perhaps a second reading of the graffiti on the wall. “Foreseen” depicts a priestess, or the initiated woman, walking towards us and appearing to be blinded by her own reflection in the moon.  In “Forgotten”, a piece from this same series that’s not in the show, the figure of the woman reappears suggesting, among other interpretations, the lost Byzantium.

WPG:  You recently traveled back to Greece.  Any new inspiration from that trip, or reinforcements of previous ideas?  Will we see this inspiration in future prints?

TILLMAN:  I’m always searching for new subjects or extensions of the old ones when I visit Greece, sometimes even subconsciously.  Having been born and raised in Western Greece, every time that I’m there I revisit my past; the medieval castle near where I grew up; the ancient oracle of Dodoni outside my hometown; the Necromatic oracle with its homeric entrance to the Underworld just an hour away.  I spent my childhood and early adult years around all of these, and much more.  The co-existence of such established elements together with the recent globalization is not an easy experience, yet it remains a strong and continuous inspiration and reinforcement for my artwork.  During this last visit, I mostly focused on elements of the landscape that I hope to incorporate into future prints.  For instance, I recorded some images of unusual organic shapes like tree branches transformed by the Ionian sea.  They struck me as something important, perhaps necessary for new projects.  That gives me the hint that at the right time, this imagery will work its way into some of my new prints.

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Artist Q&A: Joan Krash

WPG is pleased to welcome our newest member–Joan Krash, who joined just in time to be part of our New Faces, New Prints exhibition.  Read on to learn about Joan’s art and stop by the gallery to see it in person!

"Sea Anemones" by Joan Krash-Solarplate monoprint

WPG: You cite Ikebana, the art of Japanese flower arrangement, as a source of inspiration for your prints.  Your artist statement was the first I had heard that term.  Can you tell us a little more about Ikebana and how you found out about it? 

KRASH: Although I was aware of Ikebana a very long time ago, the first opportunity I had to try my hand at it was in 2002.  My daughter wanted Ikebana arrangements at her wedding and discovered the gifted Ikebana artist and teacher, Sheila Advani, who lives in this area. When I saw what Sheila had created, I asked to study with her and have attended her classes and other workshops ever since. Essentially, Ikebana is sculpture that is made from living materials, including flowers, branches, leaves, grasses, etc. It is a traditional Japanese art with roots in Buddhism. It was brought from China to Japan, where it has been nurtured for five to six hundred years.  Today, there are hundreds of different schools in Japan, each with its own set of esthetic principles. The formal elements of line, space, mass and color and their relationships to one another govern the arrangements. Underlying the formal aspects is a response to the natural world – its elements, its seasons and the transient nature of all living things. 

Sogetsu, the style I study, is a young, modern, school. Established in 1927, it is one of a handful of schools known internationally. In Sogetsu, one begins by learning and practicing its set of rules and their variants. Having internalized the esthetics, one is then allowed much freedom to develop a direction of one’s own. In my work as a painter and printmaker, the Ikebana influence is more unconscious than deliberate in determining how I compose any given work. The esthetic principles have become intrinsic to my way of seeing.

"Pond" by Joan Krash - Solarplate monoprint, see a similar print in October's exhibition!

WPG: Your background is mainly in painting, particularly oils and acrylics.  What made you try printmaking?  How is the process similar or different to painting for you?

 KRASH: When I’m in Cape Cod in the summer, I take various workshops at the excellent art schools in Provincetown and Truro. It’s an opportunity to try new things. I started printmaking with an etching class and then went on to collography and monotype. As I became more intrigued with printmaking, I also tried some classes in silk screen at the Corcoran and Montgomery College and participated in woodblock and monotype workshops at Pyramid Atlantic. More recently, I found an artist and teacher in Baltimore whose work I very much admire and who teaches, among other things, the solarplate technique. Her name is Soledad Salame. I have gravitated toward solarplate because it is a relatively nontoxic process and something that I can handle in my home studio.

 As to the similarities with painting, of course the issues of composition are essentially the same. How I get from the initial inspiration to the final piece, however, is a whole different story. In my painting, I usually start with an idea or a set of gestures. Then I have a continuing dialogue with what’s on the canvas. The work develops in a lot of layers, sometimes ending with quite a different composition from the one I started. I like the feeling of depth and the notion that there are significant layers beneath what is first seen on the surface. I try to make prints with a similar painterly quality, which works out most easily in monotypes and a little less easily in monoprints.

 Printmaking, however, requires a totally different process. Playing with photographs or sketching is a way I can develop images in my usual mode, but after that the process differs completely. Having a home studio, I had been used to coming, going, working on several paintings at the same time and taking breaks at will. With printmaking, as you know, you have to be much more organized and to plan every step of the way, to say nothing of the need to develop habits of cleanliness. I like to do new things, so the challenge is welcome, even though I struggle against my own tendencies toward casual work habits. But the rewards can be great and there’s no match in painting for the thrill of lifting a print off a plate and discovering the results of all that precision, care and preparation.

WPG: Many artists are trying to move away from oil-based inks because using them often involves harmful solvents.  You mention using soy-based ink when printing.  How does it compare to the oil-based inks?  Would you recommend it to specific printmakers over others?

KRASH:  So far, in my experience, oil-based inks seem to produce richer blacks and perhaps other colors. But since this summer, in a workshop with Dan Welden (who developed solarplate), I’ve begun using Akua Intaglio inks with exciting results. The inks are soy-based but soluble in soap and water. The interesting thing is that they don’t dissolve in water alone, so you can use dampened paper and you can re-dampen it for further layers. It takes soap or liquid detergent to dissolve the inks. For monotypes, I already had been using the regular Akua colors, which are thinner and not suitable for intaglio. Now that I’ve found these nice, thick soy-based inks, I’m looking forward to doing a lot more with them. I haven’t tried them with other kinds of plates yet, but I can’t see why they wouldn’t work with anything you can wash. I’m still experimenting and looking forward to discovering the limits of these and other safe media.

Artist Q&A: Tony Lazorko

 

"Going Home" Woodcut by Tony Lazorko

Another Q&A with one of our featured members in New Faces, New Prints.  Read more about New Mexico woodcut artist Tony Lazorko, then stop by the gallery to see more of his prints!

WPG: You manage to elevate much of your every-day and some would say even droll subject matter, such as parking lots or roadside signs.  What initially drew you to this sort of imagery?

LAZORKO: I think one ought to consider what one knows well, I also want to be part of the visual community that defines America today. I enjoy the challenge of “seeing” it with wood prints for the moment.

WPG: In your artist statement you say that as a culture and nation, America is still very new compared to many in the world, and that we as a nation are still defining our visual language.  If you had to pin it down in a sentence or two, what do you think that language is?  Where do you see it going?

LAZORKO:  I think we’re still in the process of defining just what is the American ethos. It’s dynamic and full of surprises.

WPG: Every time we check in with you, you seem to have another show or project happening!  To be successful, all artists, especially ones as busy as you, need to dedicate time to be in their studio.  How do you manage to make this time happen?  Are there any shows or projects that you are working on specifically right now?

LAZORKO:  I keep busy and productive because I’m retired and longer have to manage a 12 person staff in a newsroom. I also have a dedicated studio space where I can come and go as I please. I’m showing at the El Paso airport and I’m reading some work for the Binational Biennial at the El Paso Art museum. Have some print ideas in mind and waiting for the visual and technical to gel.

Opening Reception today: New Faces, New Prints

Press release and pictures for New Faces, New Prints!  Check out our facebook album for additional views of the members exhibition as well.

Silver Spring, MD – The Washington Printmakers Gallery is pleased to announce New Faces-New Prints II (after our first show by that title in 2008),introducing the six artists that have joined WPG in the past year.  These printmakers come from all over the country and are presenting a variety of new work and techniques. 

 About the Artists              

  Shahla Abdi is a recent BFA graduate from the University of

Prints by Shahla Abdi

 Maryland, where she won the Washington Print Club’s Excellence in Printmaking Award.  As the daughter of an Azeri-Iranian and an Irish-American, Shahla’s work is heavily influenced by shifting notions of cultural identity and of one’s sense of place.

Prints by Trisha Gupta

               Trisha Gupta is a recent BFA graduate from Washington University in St Louis, MO.  Trisha commemorates natural disasters through personal relations. Trisha says her work “brings me in dialogue with events that have affected me personally, and allows me to give personal experiences the commemoration I know they deserve.”

                Joan Krash is WPG’s newest artist member.  Joan’s solarplate monoprints are inspired by Ikebana, the

Prints by Joan Krash

art of Japanese flower arrangement, as well as her background as a psychologist, evident in the complexity and layering of her imagery. 

                Tony Lazorko is a woodcut artist who has exhibited extensively across the nation, including shows with the Los Angeles Printmakers Society and the International Print Center in New York.  Tony’s work depicts the American experience in a way that turns the mundane into an aesthetically pleasing and instantly recognizable experience.

Prints by Matina Marki Tillman (Left) and Tony Lazorko (right)

Matina Marki Tillman was born and raised in Western Greece.  Her culture, combined with her university background in Greek Medieval and Modern Literature and Poetry have been the source of much of her inspiration in creating her magic-realism prints.

Prints by Brad Widness

Brad Widness’  prints have been included in over 40 group, solo, and juried exhibitions, including the esteemed 2010 Delta National Small Prints Exhibition.  Using a variety of media, including intaglio, screenprinting, and chine colle, he combines both the “interior landscape of imagination” and the “physical world in which we live.”

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.

Artist Q&A: Shahla Abdi

The following is a Q&A done via email with one of this month’s featured artists, Shahla Abdi.  Please check back for more Q&A’s with the rest of our featured artists in the New Faces, New Prints exhibition.  Also, be sure to come in and see the show.  Preview pictures coming soon!

WPG:   Your work has an interesting combination of Western figure drawing and Eastern decorative arts.  What led you to this combination of imagery?

"Jameh Mosque," woodcut by Shahla Abdi. Currently up in "New Faces, New Prints."

ABDI:  For me, there is such an emotional intensity (subtle as it may be) to the complexity, discipline, and rigidity of mosaic tile patterns and the intricate natural forms that they are inspired by. I see in such complex pattern the potential to convey a certain state of mind–whether it be exuberance, bewilderment, meditation, sorrow, etc, or a combination of any or all of these. So when in my work, the figure becomes enveloped in the pattern, I have come to see the pattern and the figure as two equal parts of a cohesive image conveying a certain psychological experience. 

WPG:  You use the term “nostalgia of diaspora” in your artist statement.  Could you explain a little bit about what this is and how it relates to your multi-cultural influences?

 ABDI:When I talk about the “nostalgia of diaspora”, I am referring to the experience of the expatriate. Although I am not an expatriate myself, I can deduce from my observations of my father and from my conversations with other expatriates that the expatriate experience can be disorienting and bittersweet because it exists within a liminal space. This is especially true when the decision to leave one’s homeland is based predominantly on extreme circumstances rather than solely on independent choice. One can alternately feel as though one lives in two places simultaneously (new home and homeland) and in no place at all. An interesting problem arises when an expatriate who leaves his homeland during adulthood has stayed away for an extended period of time. The unsettling sensation of living “in between” places, or in no place at all begins to set in. The expatriate no longer knows his homeland because it has changed so much from the time he left it. As for his relationship with his new home, any true sense of familiarity with it always seems to elude him since there is an endless array of pop culture references that he has yet to acquaint himself with as a result of never growing up there.

As the daughter of an expatriate, it is only natural that this unresolved sense of place and cultural identity continues to be felt in my own life. However, I consider this type of awareness and experience to be a gift rather than a burden. This constant feeling of tension between myself and my changing surroundings has served to remind me that one’s sense of place and cultural identity can, and in fact should, be completely fluid, if we are to authentically respond to the changes in our lives.

WPG: As a young artist (Shahla won the Excellence in Printmaking Award this year, recently completing her BFA and now in her Masters Studies), how do you see your work progressing in the future?  Any new routes that have interested you lately?

ABDI:  I am incredibly fortunate to be pursuing my graduate studies in New York City. Needless to say, here I am surrounded by many many people who are conscious of and excited about the fact that their sense of place and cultural identity is dynamic and changing all the time. Over the month and a half that I’ve lived here, I’ve had the pleasure of engaging in countless conversations on exactly this topic, and this has been incredibly refreshing. I’m sure that the discoveries that come from these and future conversations will inform and develop the multivalent nature of my work as it pertains to continuing a visual dialogue on cultural identity. 

Besides the cultural make-up of the city, there is the architectural landscape of the city that I’ve found intriguing. I have been particularly attuned to the way in which nature and the built environment are negotiated in public space, and how this affects the experiences of the city’s inhabitants, myself included. I am also fascinated with the ways in which oases are carved out of the city in the most unlikely places, and in the most unlikely of ways. The oases that have had the most impact on me are those which, upon discovery, transport me into the world of the product being sold in that given restaurant/store. I am thinking of a Turkish restaurant in whose back garden eating area I encountered a vast arrangement of the very same Turkish lamps I depicted in my varied edition of prints entitled “Gypsies”. I am also thinking of Il Papiro’s Upper East Side store, where every inch of the space is filled with its signature hand-marbled and hand-printed stationery created in its Florence printshop. 
 The latter discovery has inspired me to learn how to marble paper. Since I am in a M.A. program dealing with Decorative Arts, Design History and Material Culture (at theBard Graduate Center), I am interested in the history, techniques and cultures surrounding the production of marbled paper as a possible direction for my studies. As a printmaker, I am incredibly eager to learn the art of marbling so that I can incorporate it into my own work, as well! With the art form’s roots in the artistic traditions of the Far East and the Middle East, I see marbling as a continuation of my experimentation with complex Eastern decorative pattern in my work.