A great way to spend an afternoon—say, this Sunday
In a superb essay on artist Joe Feddersen, Elizabeth Woody (Wyampum/Tygh/Wasco/Wishram/Watlala/Diné) includes among the sources of Feddersen’s imagery, “biographical grist and the emotional transitions of daily life” and an “interest in landscape and pattern.” At a day of printmaking workshops for young people at the museum earlier this fall, part of a series of programs featuring artists from Vantage Point, Feddersen explained the process a little differently: “I like to have something to draw,” Feddersen said, perhaps to put his students at ease. "I don't like to just draw from imagination." Feddersen has found inspiration in virtually every part of the world around him, from the landscape of his Northwest home, to Plateau basketry and weaving, to HOV symbols on highways and the pattern of a tire's tread.
After showing everyone at the workshop how to prepare an even layer of ink on a plexiglass plate and carefully align a sheet of paper to make a transfer drawing, Feddersen settled on an ink roller as his subject. His students, on the other hand, had no problem working purely from imagination. The only materials not used by the end of the workshop were the objects—a pear, a small vase, a wooden rattle—on hand in case anyone was at a loss for an idea.
Unlike drawing or painting, printmaking necessarily includes a moment before the print comes off the plate when even the artist is at least a little in the dark. The suspense proved to be a perfect fit for a studio full of young people. Feddersen nailed it when I mentioned that he seemed to enjoy teaching: "It's that I can’t wait to see what everyone is making!”
For all Feddersen's technical mastery, the same joy in experimentation and discovery is reflected in his work. It's an element of the artistic process that doesn't always come through in books and exhibitions—one reason why meeting artists is such an exciting experience. This Sunday, December 5—at 12:30 and 2:30 in the gallery—the Vantage Point series features artists' talks by Lorenzo Clayton, Rosalie Favell, and Mario Martinez. If you're able to come, it's a wonderful chance to understand how these three artists create their work, and to take home more than a little inspiration.
Rosalie Favell (Cree Métis), b. 1958. If only you could love me . . .
(Plain(s) Warrior Artist series), 2003. Giclée print. 26/5816.
Photo by Ernest Amoroso, NMAI