Idyll in Italy

Pictures of Italy Trip

Blair Folts, a fellow member of Peregrine Press, invited a small group of printmakers to join her in Northern Italy, in her family village of Poffabro, close to the Dolomite Mountains. I had travelled with this group on previous art residencies in Ireland and Iceland. We made new friends, learned about the culture, worked in print studios, and had exhibits. The little village dates back to the Middle Ages and has a charming square overlooking the valley, with a nunnery perched on the mountain above. The nuns were artists and herbalists who demonstrated their marbling and illumination techniques to us and we in turn taught them some portable printmaking. Hilarity ensued when the Mother Superior rolled up her sleeves! With other artists, we made a huge installation of an Eye out of boulders in a dry river bed. 

We visited the Venice Biennale (2018) - where countries around the world send their best contemporary art every other year (my favorite: Finland and its folk stick path leading to a pavilion lined with reindeer moss)

A Plague of Plastic

A Plague of Plastic

During the years of the pandemic I found my focus on the details of living sharpened, especially in the kitchen. Life was atomized into small ingredients, often noticed and considered for the first time. I found myself collecting discreet bits of plastic from my everyday use, appalled at how quickly I could amass a pile to print from. My idea was to mix them with the prints of sea creatures, to show how they have infiltrated our ocean life through our indiscriminate waste disposal. 

Covid Timeframe

My most recent 3-D work continues to reflect my concern about human-generated pollution that affects the natural world and upsets the interconnected web of life, specifically ocean creatures. My suspended work shown in the Peregrine Press 30th anniversary show at Cove Street Arts in Portland ( Fall 2021) combines steel, collagraph, and paint.

“Mother Ocean” is a 15’ steel and paper installation hanging from a 6’ wide hand-painted steel starfish. Its form is based on the double helix of DNA, the genetic code of life; the “skin” that joins the two spiraling steel rods is Japanese (“washi”) paper, printed on both sides using collagraph, and monotype techniques. The many layers of oil-based etching ink incorporate images of phytoplankton and foraminifera, as well as bits of recognizable plastic I have collected during the pandemic from everyday kitchen use.* 

All is intertwined in a matrix created by drawing with gel mediums that harden into solid forms that can be used for printing, or from cut stencils. Plastic is accumulating in oceans at alarming levels every year, affecting the health of the oceans that we depend on for life. There is no escaping the fact that, as Rachel Carson warned over 50 years ago, “ man is a part of nature and his war against nature is ultimately a war against himself.”

Mother Ocean at Cove St.
Mother Océan · 15’ x 6’ · Steel, paper, printmaking  · 2021