Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Secrets of Printmaking: Interview with Cecilia Lieder and Joel Cooper

Fog, by C. Lieder
Tomorrow evening, Thursday, May 15 from 5 to 9 pm. there will be an opening reception at the Northern Prints Gallery for a show called Secrets of Printmaking. The gallery is in the lower level of Cecilia Lieder's vintage Duluth home at 318 North 14th Avenue East, across the avenue from Burrito Union. The last show I attended there was quite impressive and i expect this one to be no exception.

Here is a brief intro to Ms. Lieder and Joel Cooper, two of the artists who will be showing there. Joel Moline, Tom Rauschenfels and Jon Hinkel are the others whose work will be displayed. At the opening the artists will also present and discuss their various media, processes and interpretations.

EN: Where did the name Secrets of Printmaking come from?

Cecilia Lieder: The craft aspect of making a print can seem very mysterious - and one of our hopes is to de-mystify how the various media of printmaking are accomplished... as well as to show how this affects the imagery in the resulting prints. There is also a subtler meaning to the "secrets"aspect. Printmaking, as a medium, is not widely recognized as a serious artistic endeavor having as great a potential for artistic depth and mastery as any other fine art medium. All five of us have been primarily printmakers all of our professional lives - exploring printmaking's possibilities in depth, and we will also speak about what that artistic journey has meant for us.

EN: The last time we met you showed me some amazing woodcuts prints you have done. Why are you doing lithography for this show?

CL: The aim was to feature as many media as possible while keeping this show to local artists (due to the complexity of its organizational aspects). Tom Rauschenfels is also a woodcut printmaker of great mastery, so, since I make lithographs as well as woodcuts, I chose to be the lithography medium representative. And I'm glad I did - it's been a very interesting dig for me to look over my body of work in lithography again.

EN: What do you like about the litho process?

CL: Drawing! Lithography (which means drawing on stone) is the only print medium that allows you to make a print like a pencil-drawn image. And the litho stone is the most wonderful surface in the world to draw on - making possible a range of subtle values that can't be matched with any other drawing surface. I also like the interiority of the lithographic medium. It is far less physically demanding than woodcuts, and - at least for me - seems to invite a meditative state. This has created a rich aesthetic balance for me with the woodcuts.

EN: How did you select the artists for this Secrets show?

CL: By their mastery of their media and willingness to participate. Joel Cooper has taken screen printing to a totally new level, earning many well-earned awards for his work. Jon Hinkel is the go-to printmaker for letterpress expertise in our region, as well as in the wider arena. And Joel Moline has shown his wood engravings throughout the world. It's an excellent opportunity for people to see the quality of what is happening here in Duluth in printmaking. And meeting the artists, hearing them speak about their work, just adds to the experience.

Like many of our local artists, Joel Cooper is a transplant to our region. Along with Cecilia Lieder, he is co-founder of the Northern Printmakers Alliance.

EN: When did you begin to take an interest in the fine arts?

Joel Cooper: I took some night drawing workshops at the Cincinnati Museum of Art as a teenager which led to a bit of oil painting. But my big moment was in 1969 when I purchased a used Nikon F in Minneapolis. From that moment on I was always snapping photos. I found a new way of looking at the world as if I were seeing it in framed compositions. Looking closely at all the details. I always had a dark room and being there I could release my creativity. I still take lot of photos to use as ideas for my screen printing.

EN: Can you briefly outline your schooling and career path?

JC: In the late 1980's I attended a workshop on the introduction to screen printing at the Duluth Art Institute and I had found my life long niche.

I grew up in Cincinnati and attended the University of Cincinnati. My junior year I spent in Aix en Province in southern France. Being in the area where the impressionists lived and painted inspired me to no end.

My career path is long and varied but in the beginning I used screen printing in my business printing logos on gift items even hockey pucks. Today I still screen print logos on name badges purchased at our Cooper's Engraving Service store.

EN: What kind of screen printing processes do you use? Do you prefer emulsion or film and why?

JC: I use film... only Chromaline film, made here in Duluth. It allows the printing of very fine is actually used a lot in the printing of circuit boards.

EN: You say that screen printing is contemplative. In what way?

JC: The printing process itself is very difficult to describe in words. For anyone interested a demonstration of the process can be viewed at the Northern Printmakers Gallery, The Secrets of Printmaking, May 15, 5:00-9:00 p.m.

Screen printing is like a chess game where every move must be contemplated before you start printing. What colors in what order...opaque or transparent ink...draw with pen or brush...draw to jazz or classical music...etc.

EN: How did you get connected to the Northern Printmakers Alliance?

JC: There is a wealth of printmaking talent in the region and Cele Lieder and I felt it would be a great idea to found the alliance. We have members from all over the region who exhibit together and promote there various forms of printmaking to the public...

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The opening is tomorrow night.... We'll see you there!

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