What’s bigger than a kitchen stove but smaller than a sofa?
The answer comes via Skagit artist Kris Ekstrand Molesworth, who’ll be bringing her nearly 800-pound printmaking press to Edison Sat., June 23 as part of a daylong demonstration at Smith & Vallee Gallery.
While the painting part of her artistic process is easy to explain, Molesworth says she was inspired to put together the “Meet the Press” event—which includes lugging her behemoth of a tool into the gallery—after her solo show last April. As she met guests at the space and tried to explain about the printmaking aspect of her creative concoctions, she was met with a number of blank stares.
“There was a lot of hand-waving on my part and, usually, a skeptical, confused look from the visitor,” Molesworth says. “It is vastly more understandable when you see an original print produced in the studio.”
When she heard Smith & Vallee was planning a show featuring printmakers from around the region for June, Molesworth figured it was the perfect time for show and tell. In addition to sharing her own work routine, she’ll be joined by Fir Island artist Natalie Niblack, Bow’s Brian Cypher, and La Conner’s Theodora Jonsson, who’ll spend Sunday afternoon demonstrating vitreography—the process of printmaking that includes using a glass plate.
“The artists will be inking metal etching plates and printing them right in the gallery, so it will be a very visible, close-up look at the process, just like in the studio,” Molesworth says. She adds that each artist will be able to pull three or four prints off their plates during the course of the afternoon, and all their best prints of the day will be for sale.
Although visitors to the gallery won’t be making prints of their own, Molesworth says they’ll be able to ask questions as well as take close looks at the tools and materials the artists are using.
For those who wonder if all prints are the same, for example, Molesworth notes that is definitely not the case. Printmaking, she says, involves both intention and chance.
“When I lay the lovely, handmade sheet of paper over the inked plate and the press applies a few thousand pounds of pressure to it, surprising things occur,” Molesworth says. “Blacks might be deeper than I expected. An etched line may break and surprise me. A shadow may settle in an area I did not intend. Some things go haywire. In fact, at the intimate moment of contact when the inked image transfers to paper, I am not even present.”
In other words, Molesworth says, each print is much more than a copy of the original, and each artist approaches the process in a different way.
“For collectors and newcomers to the world of original prints, it is worthwhile to ask questions of dealers and galleries to learn more about how the work was produced,” she says. “The show at Smith & Vallee Gallery is a great way to see a wide variety of techniques and creative approaches.”
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