Tag Archives: St Meinrad Archabbey

Can different bodies of artwork get along?

Breath Intertwined
©Elizabeth Busey. Breath Intertwined. Reduction linocut, 25 x 17in, edition of 24.

Bodies of artwork are like siblings. They come from the same source, and you hope they play well together. There are no guarantees.

Some of my linocuts and monoprint collages are getting ready to be featured together at the St. Meinrad Archabbey in Ferdinand, IN. I chose linocuts that explore similar themes to the newer monoprint collages. Both Breath Intertwined (above) and Multiplicative (below) explore the concept of leaf cellular packing, but from different starting points. 

What follows is my artist statement for the exhibit — my explanation of my artistic progeny. I hope they behave themselves.

©Elizabeth Busey. Multiplicative, Monoprint collage, 12 x 12 in.

Making a statement 

What if what you perceive is related to more than just your immediate experience? Does an image or natural formation remind you of something other than its current form? I often sense that there is a connection across the macrocosm, where patterns and forms tell a story of the underlying laws of our existence.  

A century ago, Scottish scientist D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson mused that “everything is what it is because it got that way.” In contrast to the popular Darwinian evolutionary theories of the day, Wentworth thought that living and non-living things (such as in astronomy and geology) were shaped by the requirements of physical forces. Accidents in formation are also part of the process, leading to wide variations within tremendous similarities. In my work, I strive to explore these similarities and consider how the human experience might mirror that of nature itself. 

I gather my inspiration with the assistance of science and technology. My personal photographic catalogue is filled with images taken from commercial airplanes, often partly eclipsed by an airplane wing. I delight in the myriad of satellite images available to me, as well as those unveiled by highly sensitive microscopes. Artists from only decades ago would have been amazed at this source material.  

The materials and techniques I choose are surprisingly simple in stark contrast to my methods for gathering inspiration. My imagery is created with linseed oil-based inks on cotton rag paper with the assistance of a hand-cranked etching press built with recycled steel. My reduction linocuts are created by a conversation between carving away layers of one linoleum block and printing the resulting pattern in overlapping inked layers, until the block is mostly carved away, or reduced.  

My latest work embraces monoprinting, which is a spontaneous and surprising way to create images. Made by printing an inked sheet of smooth polycarbonate, no two monoprints are exactly the same. I develop unique textures on paper (which are themselves monoprints) that are then cut apart and combined with old maps to create monoprint collages. Taking my cues from the paper cut-outs of Henri Matisse as well as the playful exuberance of children’s book artist Eric Carle, the collages seek to create something that feels resonant and familiar in an abstract form. The addition of gold leaf in some collages hints at the reverence I feel toward my subject matter.  

©Elizabeth Busey. Benediction for an Unlikely Journey. Monoprint collage, 18 x 24 in.

One of my latest monoprints is entitled Benediction for an Unlikely Journey. In the global liturgy of which we are all a part, here is the benediction I would give…  

As human beings, we are surrounded by wonder.
Pay attention, be amazed and feel connected.
Then go and work to preserve this wonder.

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