Sleeping in the Forest
I am not usually drawn to poetry, but Mary Oliver’s “Sleeping in the Forest” spoke to me in a way that I did not know possible. While the poem was not the initial inspiration for my thesis, I rediscovered it on my bookshelf near the end of my production period. The mentality I had behind my work had subconscious connections to Oliver’s words. The “lichens and seeds” honor the small and menial in nature. The space between Oliver and the “white fire of the stars” has no beginning or end, the limitless feeling of relation - a feeling I tried to incorporate into my prints. Oliver helped me find what I struggled to put into words.
The repetition of the three abstracted tree woodblocks speaks to the natural patterns found in nature. Lichen is comprised of a symbiotic relationship between fungus and alga; the variables of the partnership dictate the unique outcome of the organism. The relationship of my woodblocks to the ink is similar in that nature. The layering and color variation celebrates the infinite possibilities found within those patterns and construction of fundamental elements. The multiple layers and combinations of color and texture are often the result of unconscious decision making during printing. My print Growth was the bridge between the repetitive nature of the medium prints to the abstraction found in the large prints. Switching from printing the blocks on the press, to printing them by hand with a barren made allowances for further evolutions of the same imagery.
The process of making was more important to me than the final product. I have dealt with the idea of perfectionism my entire life. The search for the “perfect” severely cut off my ability to experiment and grow by only allowing performances of what I thought was acceptable. I wanted to adjust my practice in a way that would help me learn. I only allowed myself a limited number of tools and materials; indulging in these guidelines satisfied the need for safe boundaries. Straying from the traditional printmaking practice of editioning (i.e. making a limited number of identical copies) enabled me to be more experimental within the individual prints, and to let go of the feeling of the overwhelming significance of a final decision. I also tried to confront my personal anxieties and relationship with color. While it started as a challenge, it ultimately became part of the process. The individual prints are made to represent the small instances in nature that may seem insignificant at the time, but will never be able to be fully repeated or reproduced again.
Senior Art Thesis Exhibition 2019