Reopened Eskenazi Museum a treasure for printmaking

After what seemed like forever, the beloved Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University reopened this week. For a town that hovers on average at 100,000 people, we are spoiled to have a free, world-class museum just minutes away. I was fortunate to be among many volunteers that welcomed visitors back in to see the newly re-imagined space.

Formerly the Fine Arts Library, this space on the third floor hosts the Center for Prints, Drawings and Photographs.
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Coaxing emotion out of color and shape

Do you ever get a feeling simply from the color or shape of something? Sanctum (below) came about as I mused about what made me feel supported and renewed. Relying on a Voronoi diagram matrix, I employed both color and shape to explore these emotions. (New readers: You can learn more about my obsession with Voronoi diagrams and art here.)

Elizabeth Busey. Sanctum. Monoprint collage. 18 x 18in, $475 ($575 framed.)

I purposefully used the structure in different ways. Some were familiar polygons, and others more angular.  I can see several  examples from nature that are evoked by these elements. But I’d rather not influence your reactions.

What do you see?

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Art Reflects Science Opens in Chicago Heights

Planetree of St. Stephan
Planetree of St. Stephan. Reduction linocut, 28 x 28in, edition of 13, $725 ($1,075 framed.)

Particular artwork inspired this piece.

I continue to take my art on the road. Eight of my reduction linocuts are part of an exhibition at Prairie State College in Chicago Heights, IL. Titled Art Reflects Science, the exhibition also includes work by Vera Scekic and Hunter Cole. Scekic exploits poured acrylic layers, often scraping, sanding and splicing to create imagery that feels like primordial cells. Geneticist and artist Cole uses bioluminescent bacteria in solution as paint, photographing her work as the bacteria grows stronger and then weaker.

You can read an article about the exhibit here.

In Praise of Honey and Cream. Reduction linocut, 14 x 28in, edition of 15, $375 ($500 framed.)

This linocut celebrates the humble bees and their importance to our diet.

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A study in blues

What do you think of when you see the color blue? To me, it is the color of beginnings — of water and sky. Deep and moody, filled with possibility. My latest monoprint collage is a meditation on blue.

©Elizabeth Busey. Emanation. Monoprint collage, 18 x 18in.

Water figures prominently is creation stories worldwide. At a time when I find myself impatient for progress and peace, both personally and globally, immersing myself in blues has been a calming practice.

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Printmakers love to collaborate

I usually work by myself in my home studio. Collaboration is difficult as my cats simply are not that motivated. During my recent workshop at Penland School of Craft I had several opportunities to collaborate with other artists. I found it to be both delightful and challenging.

The workshop was led by April Flanders, a professor at Appalachian State University, who creates large-scale installations using paper and printmaking. We also had a vastly qualified studio assistant in Lauren Kussro, who is a professor of art at the University of Houston-Clear Lake. Both artists encouraged us to find ways to collaborate, seeing how the imagery of one person could compliment that of others.

Collaboration One with consummate printmaker and paper artist Lauren Kussro.

Lauren and I embarked on a collaboration — each starting with one piece of paper. As we printed layers, we exchanged the papers back and forth. Collaboration One was created with monoprinting, stencils, screen printing and colored pencils. This one came home to live in my studio. I need to work on a better title.

Collaboration Two with Lauren Kussro.

Collaboration Two was created using monoprinting, poster board stencils, screen printing, frosted mylar (printed with both litho ink and screen printing) and paper cutting. Deciding to cut this work was very nerve-wracking, but I was pleased with the results. This one lives with Lauren in Houston. She said she was going to add some pencil work to it, and I’m looking forward to seeing the results.

Collaborative works by my studio. Amazing how the sum of many parts can lead to such vibrant wholes.

April and Lauren also facilitated a broader collaboration with our entire studio. 11 x 11inch papers were posted on the gray fabric-covered display boards, inviting us to print something, or cut, or sew… The possibilities were infinite. The final prints were offered in the silent and live auctions at the end of the session, with the proceeds benefitting the Penland scholarship programs.

I’m not sure when I will have the opportunity to collaborate again, but I thoroughly enjoyed the process. Stay tuned!

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The Delight of Learning Something New

Here are some snapshots of some of the new things I learned during my workshop at Penland School of Craft this summer. The class was filled with ideas of how you could push printmaking beyond the traditional. Rather than creating one finished idea, I spend much of my time trying things that were novel to me, and following ideas down rabbit holes…

Learning to cut rubylith film to make stencils. The red part blocks UV light and doesn’t allow the emulsion on the screen to harden. You wash this part out, and then ink is printed through the screen.

I spent a good portion of time learning about screen printing. My last experience with screen printing was during my studies at IU, where we were limited to using drawing fluid and screen filler (think liquid clay here) to create imagery. Now I had access to an exposure unit, so I could create patterns using an opaquing pen, rubylith film or just plain thick paper stencils.

A screen I created. The large leaves were cut out thick paper, and the honeycomb was created with a red opaquing pen.

I also printed on everything except my studio mates. I am fascinated with translucent materials, so I worked on frosted mylar, as well as thin mulberry. I’m still working out the kinks of printing litho ink on the mylar, but screen printing works like a champ.

Oil-based monoprint on frosted mylar, topped with a silkscreen pattern.

Now the question is how do I use this new-found knowledge? For now, my creations reside in a comfy box in my studio, quietly waiting for the next idea to germinate…

A snapshot of my tables. You can see layers of things I have printed…
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What do you take to a workshop?

I’m about to depart for another workshop at Penland School of Craft. I went to a monoprinting workshop last summer with Andy Rubin, and it was transformative. This year’s workshop is with April Flanders entitled Singular Prints and Alternative Presentations.

The workshop promises to work with monotypes and screen printing, plus explore unusual ways of presenting the work — installations, sculptural prints and shadow boxes. Plus new techniques (to me) including paper cutting and sewing. With such an open-ended agenda, I’m tempted to bring everything from my studio — just in case. Restraint has prevailed, so here is what I’m taking to the workshop.

Tools to move ink around. The studio does have brayers and ink knives, but sometimes it is great to have several to yourself!
A new sketchbook is ready to capture my ideas. New pens await inspiration.
I’m bringing 12 x 12in and 18 x 24in polycarbonate plates, plus a mylar registration jig and mylar cutouts.
Cutting tools! Safety tip — always use a metal ruler when using an Exacto knife.
TAPE! (of course)
Stuff to add embellishment.
MAPS! (You never know…)
Things to control my mess. Penland is very careful with disposing of solvent soaked rags, and wants to reduce other waste. So the towels are for hand-drying.

I’m also bringing lots of paper: Rives BFK, Stonehenge, Masa and Thai Unryu. Plus my pack of large tracing paper.

Now to pack lots of clothes, a rain coat and a clear mind….

Back next month!

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Changing courses, rivers and life

It has finally stopped raining in the Ohio River Valley. Until a week ago, constant rain and heavy storms caused flooding in places that are nowhere near a river. Lake Monroe, built in the 1960s by the Army Corps of Engineers for flood control, is doing its job. It is 13 feet about normal levels. Water is relentless.

©Elizabeth Busey. Riparian Perseverance. Monoprint collage, 18 x 24in.

My latest collage, Riparian Perseverance, had me pondering the differing effects of water on disparate places. East coast cities like Annapolis and Boston are experiencing flooding even on sunny days. Glaciers and snow fields are melting more rapidly up north. Everything around me is green, green, green as plants celebrate the abundance of moisture.

The meandering river in this monoprint collage is inspired by the many rivers around me that carve and re-carve their path. The Wabash River to the west of me actually changed its course so significantly that it greatly affected residents in both Illinois and Indiana. Few things have this kind of power to effect change on our landscape so dramatically.

Kind of like some life circumstances…

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Your vacation pictures say a great deal about you

I’m not sure if this a true Fiboancci structured plant or not…

The pictures you take on vacation say a great deal about you. What are you interested in? What do you want to remember? My phone isn’t filled with the traditional sites, but rather with patterns and shapes I want to remember. A recent long weekend trip to Chicago yielded no “Bean” pictures; instead I focused my lens on patterns…

Natural stone pavers in the Lurie Garden have both human-made and natural patterns to enjoy.

The Lurie Garden — part of Millenium Park — were ALIVE in late June. Plants of all sorts tried to fulfill their biological imperative by attracting insects of all types. Some species of blackbird was very offended by volunteers working nearby.

One of my few traditional city shots captures the natural, the geometric, and the extraordinary! Shown is the modern wing of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Buildings are just big mirrors

I did take a few photos of the many skyscrapers in Chicago. But here too, I’m not looking at a skyline, but rather how the buildings reflect the sky.

I wonder if the people who live in this building appreciate the clouds of their city.

Images of the strange and obscure

I always have a few pictures that are purely for me to remember something unusual. The above leaf is from a plant in the Lincoln Park Conservatory. I have spent a great deal of time looking at leaf cells and the mathematical explanations for their formations. This is one I have never seem before. It looks less like a leaf, and more like a weaving pattern or WWII code. Sadly I forgot to take an image of its identification tag, so I may never know.

My vacation images tell me that besides being fascinated with all things pattern, I also want to see the commonalities that exist within nature. (It also says that I take abysmal selfies and don’t like to be in crowded places.)

What do YOU take pictures of?

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