I created this 4″ by 4″ work for the Morill Mini silent auction benefiting the Justin Morrill Homestead in Strafford, VT. Whle not typical of my work, it feels important to me in this time to use any platform I can to address the current awakening to racial injustice that is happening.
What follows is my artist statement about the piece:
During this time of social and political unrest, I find myself shocked at how ignorant I have been of the lived reality of my black neighbors and friends, and at how easy it has been for me to be this ignorant. I’m shocked and ashamed at my misperceptions and profound ignorance of the history of our country, and it makes me wonder about the history of our region: what else am I willfully ignoring?
Most images of summer in Vermont evoke an idyllic country landscape. I wonder: what history are we not seeing when we look at these images? To address this theme, I created a print of a barn on a hillside casting a shadow of an American flag over the field. The flag is concealing a history of black Americans in Vermont, the people whose stories I have never heard. The flag is unraveling to reveal the parts of our human story that are refusing to remain hidden, ignored and overlooked.
One of my favorite Fall traditions is to work as Osborne the Printer at the Tunbridge World’s Fair. I’ve been attending the fair nearly 20 years and just recently found my calling up on Antique Hill working in the print shop. Even though it’s not typically something you’d print with a letterpress, I created a commemorative block print that will be available for print enthusiasts. I’ll be working there Saturday night, but the print shop is open 10-5 every day of the fair. See you there!
I’m getting ready for my summer trip to Iceland and Finland by immersing myself in some beautiful images. This reindeer is from a book called Scandinavian Folk Patterns, and the sun framing it I found online researching Sami drum symbols. Felt is one of my favorite fabrics to sew because you don’t need to hem it and it makes big bold lines and shapes similar to the ones I like to use in my block prints.
I have recently been inspired by Rachael Cook at the Yogipreneur website. She runs a business helping yoga teachers turn their love of yoga into a sustainable business. I am not particularly business minded, so I signed up for her 21 day “Fired Up and Focused” challenge.
Rachael sends you an email a day with a link to a video she has made sharing some tip or another about how to run your business better. I particularly like her emphasis on the importance of folding all aspects of your life (including personal and family time) into the way you run your business. I am not a yoga teacher, but I definitely consider my art a heart-centered wellness business. And my math tutoring practice, for that matter. So I adapt what Rachael has to say to my world and I find it fits well.
One thing she said that has helped me a lot is that it is important to create systems to support the mundane, daily operations of your work. Creating systems helps you streamline your energy so you have more to put into the higher level visionary thinking that will help you grow and develop in the direction you want to go. So I decided to create a system for my block printing.
It’s important to me that I print regularly (not just when inspiration strikes) because I know that’s what Real Artists do, (and I’ve spent years being blocked, thinking I was not talented enough, when really I just didn’t have an art production system in place.) I set myself a goal of 12 prints a year and split up my printmaking process into 4 equal steps, each of which I can easily complete within a week.
Week One: Photograph Things that Inspire Me
Week Two: Crop, Sketch, and Transfer Image to Block
Week Three: Carve Block
Week Four: Print and Edit
Rinse and Repeat
Here’s the result of the first round:
I’m pretty pleased with this print (it will look even better when I add color), and for the first time I don’t feel panicked that I don’t know what I will do next. It doesn’t matter. I have a system, and as long as I stick to it and don’t over think it, at the end of the year I will have twelve beautiful new block prints.
This is the print I made last Fall that I just finished painting today. It’s a self portrait of me with a Martinmas lantern. Of the three versions, this one is my favorite. It was surprisingly satisfying to paint inky blue-black paint over my own face.