Monday, March 3, 2014

Jay Fox ~ Milwaukee, WI

Jay Fox ~ UW-Milwaukee, WI
“Keep thy shop and thy shop will keep thee. “ -Benjamin Franklin
I think Ben was on to something when he said this, and the deeper I get into building up an MFA exhibition the more I need to remind myself of this.  I am currently working between my subterranean paper studio, the ground level woodshop, and the “towering” print facilities and studio. Switching gears to transition between spaces has been tricky, but a good full day will utilize all three (sometimes successfully).

To understand what draws me to fastidious and ingenious studios you must understand my previous roles in studios. I have been lucky enough to follow an academic path that has provided printmaking, woodworking, and (at times) papermaking studios when I required them. The only catch, I managed most of those studios for a few years. I became a broken record of studio etiquette, preaching to students and sneaking in work around the academic calendar’s lulls.

After a few years I decided to move on/up and pursue my MFA. I chose UW-Milwaukee, aside from exciting work and enthusiastic professors, the institution that had just won the bid for the SGCI conference in 2013, it would fall on the middle year of my time there. Being a part of conference planning and implementation is a part of any good, masochistic, printmaker’s goals.

So, that places me in Milwaukee, during one of the coldest winters on record, where I’ve chosen to rediscover the importance and the possibilities of papermaking. In my basement I set up a vat, a shop press, and a makeshift drying system. (No beaters at my disposal here, so I get some twinrocker pulp and get busy with a paddle bit when it arrives.) I have been building the tools I need as I needed them, for instance to print the likeness of a bag of quikcrete you will need an 18”x24” sheet of paper, pretty standard. In contrast, a section of 8x8 beam must be printed on 12”x72”, and a Diston handsaw, 14”x37”.

The paper that leaves my basement is purpose built, formed for the print that it is destined to carry, size, weight, color, and constitution determined by the image it will hold. It is not subservient to printing; it works in collaboration with the processes it encounters.

Next up I will be building a wall in the gallery space, containing drawers not frames for the prints to live in, in multiple. The prints on handmade paper existing not so much as editions as they are instances, 20 blows of a hammer, 15 strikes with a mallet. And lord have mercy, measure twice.

So, if you happen to be around Milwaukee April 11-26 stop by. I would be happy to meet you, and see you off with some fresh prints!

Jay Fox

No comments: