Maybe . . . We'll See
Work created for my final thesis project at the Rhode Island School of Design.
I aspire to reflect what I see or think of others and bring that to life in my work. I prefer working in such a way in which I begin my pieces from observation in order to reflect what I find visually or thoughtfully stimulating about my subject in the here-and-now. I find working directly from life, rather than from a photograph, best allows me to create with spontaneous, intuitive choices and energetic marks.
While portraits are typically images made to represent a particular individual or stand in for them when they are absent, I find drawing or printing portraits even more intriguing when the image is faded away, mist-like, losing a kind of materiality or physical presence. For a while, I explored this through printing ghost images of prints, or printing what was remaining on the matrix after a first pull, which usually appears lighter and flatter than the initial print. I continued to wonder how it is that mere globs of ink or paint can come together to form a recognizable person, or even show something about the inner qualities of a person beyond their mere superficial appearance.
I began a series of four portraits of fellow printmakers as a launching point to explore my many interests. Beginning with charcoal and pastel drawings of my subjects, I hoped to efficiently capture not just a likeness, but something deeper: their individualities, as suggested by what I observed of their stances, gaze, gestures, or position in space, their posture or carriage. I recognize that I am not close enough to all of them to really know if I’m capturing their spirit, but I try my best to convey what I see and feel about them in my work.
In the last month, I embarked on making four large portrait prints, which culminates my two-year exploration of depicting figures and portraiture. I returned to my favorite printmaking media, woodcut, in which I’ve either restarted each portrait or altered the compositions of the initial portraits, revisiting two of the individuals to begin the woodcut from life. I wanted to draw attention to these dimensions of inner strength I see in varying degrees in each of my fellow printmakers: focus, power, drive, a sense of direction or thoughtful execution of their work. To achieve this, I focus on carving the highlights that I see to suggest enough visual information for viewers and myself to just barely make out the most distinct features of each sitter.
Through printmaking, the ability to replicate these portraits allows me to discover the slightly different nuanced meanings that are expressed through the multiple versions and iterations of the same image or idea.