Just over a year ago, I began saving textural items for my students’ use in a printmaking class at Great Bay Community College in Portsmouth, NH. In a very short time, I was overrun with plastic mesh bags that had come into my kitchen along with onions, oranges, limes and other food items. Looking around my home and studio, I found bird netting, old burlap bags from rice, scraps of yarn and carpet, along with rolls of tape and embroidery threads from the last century. Shortly after the class had ended in January, 2018, I embarked on a body of work inspired by this collection of detritus.
Envisioning the gyres, areas where currents converge in each of the oceans, I started to consider life in the Pacific gyre where a mat of floating garbage the size of Texas has accumulated. In addition to bags and other debris, the gyres contain clouds of plastic micro-particles that have been broken down to 5mm or less. They blot out the sun for marine life as they look up from the ocean depths. They are ingested.
These thoughts about waste, the environment, and the tangle that we are creating in our world, both literally and figuratively, began a year of collagraphs starting small and increasing in size.
First, I created a series of small prints that was specific to marine concerns. In the fall, using the same materials and waste products I had collected, I embarked on a more ambitious body of work, the swamp series shown here.
There are glimmers of hope in some prints and in others, substantive tangles of emotions predominate the imagery. All have distant or close referents in the landscape.
With the new year, I have begun the design of a large collagraphic installation created from assembled sixteen inch square sections of prints. The completed work will be four by eight feet.
I began printmaking more than thirty years ago using time-honored methods, in particular, etching. When I moved into a studio at Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart outside Washington, DC in 1997, I eschewed toxic chemicals and began creating monotypes and monoprints. I am particularly interested in depicting the ambiguity between views of the earth as seen from high above and organic structures that can be observed through a microscope.
In 1990, I received a Master’s in Liberal Studies from Wesleyan University with a concentration in science. Working as an artist while I studied and taught science, I completed a series of large scale paintings and drawings based upon microscopy as my final Master’s project. I moved from the teaching of biology to teaching art when I was hired by Stone Ridge.