IAC grant project

oak cottonwoodleaves beechleaves mapleleaves black oakOne of the reasons I moved to rural Northwest Indiana 17 years ago was for its natural beauty and unique environmental qualities. Since making my home on a farm in LaPorte, I have immersed myself into a continued course of study of the interdependent relationships of plants, animals and humans within the natural world.

My project started in the woods and bogs of LaPorte County. I will began by making onsite preliminary drawings and photographing trees and roots in the area.

Trees are magnificent natural entities that connect earth and sky. The roots of most trees in our area are shallow due to the low lying lands that might be filled with water part of the year or sandy dune soils. The trees grasp onto the earth’s surface with much of the root structure exposed above ground. The base of the tree roots sprawl out before plunging into the soil. This growth is needed for stability and thus longevity. These roots reveal beauty and strength presenting a profound sense of being.

Using the drawings as a starting point, I transformed them into four very large (44” x 72”) hand-made paper art drawings by using traditional methods and methods I have designed myself. I created the imagery by applying pigmented pulp on to a “fresh” made sheet then carved the blocks and printed the block onto the paper. The final pieces were framed using archival methods.

I made 2 different kinds of paper fiber – kozo and cotton rag. The kozo was cooked in an alkaline solution and rinsed. The fiber hand beaten. The tool (mould/deckle) used to make this large sheet is a crossbreed I designed from many paper making processes. The deckle fits on top of the mould, the kozo fiber pulp is poured onto the mould with fiber dispersing on contact resulting in a sheet.

On the sheet, finely beaten pigmented cotton rag pulp was applied to create the image. The fiber was beaten very fine and pigmented. Understanding the structure of paper fiber and chemical additives has been a life long pursuit. The pigmented pulp was applied using squeeze bottles, dental syringes and a variety of other implements I have designed for this process. The 2 fibers become one sheet during the drying process.

I carved the printmaking blocks to layer texture and color on to the paper pieces. The blocks are rolled with an oil-based ink and pressured is applied using a press.

I use archival framing techniques to frame all of my own work. For such large sized works I use lightweight plexi-glass. The frame is made from hard maple.

I want these artworks to inspire viewers with curiosity and respect for nature to tempt them to explore these wild places on their own and to see nature in a new light.