Two Anchorage artists will be showcasing their unique approaches to printmaking and ceramics this month at the Kenai Fine Art Center. The exhibit, “Of Stone,” will feature intaglio and lithography prints from University of Alaska artist-in-residence Jonathan Green, as well as large ceramic animal sculptures from UAA ceramics instructor Alanna DeRocchi.
“Of Stone” will be on display at the Kenai Fine Art Center starting tomorrow and will remain until the end of May, with an opening reception free to the public taking place tomorrow evening from 5 to 7 p.m. During the reception, Green and DeRocchi will discuss the process for creating their art and their motivation behind the pieces on display.
Green works primarily in printmaking and has done so since he first began studying art in college in 2006. His preferred style of printmaking is called intaglio, which involves etching an image onto a copper plate, filling the grooves of the plate with ink and then pressing the ink onto a sheet of paper. Most of Green’s pieces on display at the “Of Stone” exhibit were made using this process, but a few of them were made using limestone rather than copper in a similar process known as lithography.
Green said he enjoys printmaking, specifically in intaglio, because it is a medium where he can take his drawings and incorporate a number of different texturing, coloring and layering techniques. Printmaking also allows Green to easily distribute his art wherever it needs to go, because he is able to make as many original prints as he wants using a single etched copper plate.
The pieces by Green that will be on display at the Fine Art Center share a common thread as far as the subject of the images. Each one features large rocks being held up precariously by narrow planks of wood. Green said that in the process of creating these pieces he actually went and looked for the right rocks to use as scale models and arranged a “fashion shoot” of sorts for them in his studio, photographing them and studying the lighting and other details before etching the image onto a plate.
Green said that with this series he hopes to highlight the impact that humanity has on the world, even on something as seemingly inert and unchanging as a rock. In his artist statement he writes of “A boundary between animate life and inanimate life that is more permeable than we currently imagine.”
While Green’s share of the “Of Stone” exhibit was able to be transported in a single box, DeRocchi’s sculptures required a U-Haul, a lot of padding and some very careful driving to get from her studio in Anchorage to the Fine Art Center in Kenai.
DeRocchi has been creating large-scale ceramic sculptures of animals since around 2004, and the size of her sculptures has only been limited by the size of her kiln. The sculptures on display for “Of Stone” are a number of animals recognizable to most Alaskans: bears, deer, seals and others.
DeRocchi does not depict these animals in any sort of traditional sense. The seals are missing their heads, and one of the bears looks scraggly and malnourished. DeRocchi said that with her art she tries to translate her personal experiences of loss and longing into a message that speaks to a broader audience. By using Alaskan animals, DeRocchi hopes to evoke that same sense of loss with her sculptures and make the viewer think about what it would be like if these animals were no longer around.
The inspiration for these sculptures comes from DeRocchi’s own experiences with the natural world. DeRocchi spoke of a trip to Point Hope where she stumbled upon the body of a seal that was missing its head and had a hole in the back of it, exposing its ribcage. This image ended up being one of the sculptures that are part of the “Of Stone” exhibit. Similarly, the inspiration for her malnourished bear sculpture came directly from a famous photograph by National Geographic photographer Paul Nicklen of a starving polar bear.
Green and DeRocchi’s work will be on display through the month of May at the Kenai Fine Art Center, which is located on Cook Drive in Old Town. The Fine Art Center displays different exhibits from local artists each month, with the first Thursday of each month serving as the opening reception for the exhibits. Beginning May 1, the summer hours for the Fine Art Center are Monday through Saturday from 12 to 5 p.m.