My sketchbooks have always been an integral part of my life, my memory and my artwork. When I was in graduate school, I started a series of screen prints that emulated the relationship between text and image that emerges in my sketchbooks. I called these prints Story Maps. I combined autobiographical narrative with fantastical elaboration and quotes from my research and other reading.
I made 3 prints in the series. The 3rd was kind of a flop. I then got distracted by other mediums/formats, moved back into straight drawing, and then into the 8 foot by 4 foot woodcuts that became my thesis exhibition. That’s how graduate school goes sometimes. I saved the Story Maps as a path to follow later, something to return to.
A year after finishing my MFA, I’m readdressing the Story Map formula in a new body of work. Combining small linoleum and wood cut images with silk-screened text, diagrams and figures, I create prints that can be read in a visual instant and/or read like a short story or long poem. You can spend time with the text or view it as image.
An excerpt from my current artist’s statement:
A love of drawing and an obsession with mapping are central to my process. I use a combination of text and image to form a dense visual architecture. The diagrammatic and information map formats that inspire my compositions have fueled my work in a visual fiction genre of my own invention: Contemporary Creative Nonfictions. The process of research is central to my practice. I incorporate samples from literature that inspires my work—fiction, recent historical documents, diagrams of weather systems, mythological narratives, and my own pseudo-fictional parables. Together, these form dense Story Maps, which are silkscreened into the borders of my drawings. The narratives are sculpted into woodcut prints on repurposed bed sheet fabrics, appliqué stitched together to form colorful, layered surfaces.
One of my new relief prints before the addition of silkscreen layers:
Another new relief print with text and other silkscreen color layers:
The blocks were inspired by my studies with The Amazing Hancock Brothers this summer. Working with them, I felt permission to work at a reasonable scale again, to let my thoughts flow freely, and combine in new ways. I have completed one print in the series already, which will be part of an exchange portfolio to be exhibited at the Southern Graphics Council Conference in Milwaukee, WI next year. Three more are in progress. I’m really enjoying the process of making these pieces, and I look forward to continuing to work in this Story Map structure.