A R T I S T
My art practice is rooted in the traditions of contemplative art, influenced greatly by my years as a student of Asian calligraphy and my ongoing design career as a calligrapher and letterform artist. I use many different media, but in all of them I attend closely to the language of mark-making and surface.
As principal of Iskra Design I have been working with the alphabet for many years, providing custom letterform solutions for book covers, logotypes, and package branding. In the first decade of my career I immersed myself in Asian calligraphy, haiga, T’ai Chi and sumie painting, studying with Lucy Liu, John Leong and Sensei Ishii among other teachers. After this period of Eastern influence I went to the University of Washington, completing a degree in painting with a secondary focus on printmaking (BFA). I draw inspiration from the interplay between the contemplative practices of Asian art and a perhaps more Western need for invention and uncharted chaos.
Although my first love is printmaking, due to early exposure to solvents I have been unable to work in a traditional printmaking studio or with oil-based inks, and this has pushed me to devise my own methods to create the look and process of printmaking without a press. In much of my work I approach my surface as though it is a stone or metal plate, but the “plate” becomes the final piece of art, reflecting the same characteristics of mark-making found in etching and lithography. I love surfaces that are bitten and etched, indirect and calligraphic mark making, and experimental processes of monoprint which embed an element of surprise. I also adore flat screaming color and the graphic qualities of serigraph and stencils. I move between visual languages, always looking for an ambiguity of pictorial space and unexpected juxtapositions.
For the past five years I have focused primarily on how the atmosphere of emotion intersects with architectural structure. In my series about construction sites and the street I use contemporary digital photography, imaging software and found and made surface to explore nostalgia, loss, place and displacement in the rapidly changing urban environment. For me Photoshop is like playing jazz: it is the ultimate tool for improvisation. It allows me to deconstruct images into layers of light and color, line and shape, and reassemble them into imaginary worlds. The way the layers interact with each other opens up a new kind of pictorial composition unavailable in any other medium.
The physical form of my digitally composed work may be archival pigment print, transfer print, or mixed media. In digitally printed work my goal is to produce a work on paper, an artifact incorporating all the finesse and obsession with surface of traditional printmaking. The resulting images have a mysterious hybrid quality that is often taken for silkscreen or lithography.
Recently I have begun a shift away from printmaking towards more direct processes, using mixed media on Venetian plaster and pure painting. In going back to what are in some ways traditional image media I am still very interested in what I think of as “photographicness.” This is a relatively modern phenomena, in which photography, which originally set out to imitate life and “painting from life,” has now become our visual reference point as a global culture. How does a way of seeing that is mediated by incredibly complex technology enter into our psychology as a collective/yet personal emotional filter? How does it influence our sense of what is “real,” “personal” or “authentic?” How do the qualities of surface in the daily interface of screens, phones, camera and facsimile begin to define what is beauty in other media? These are some of the questions guiding my work.
If you are interested in a studio visit or in purchasing prints or paintings you may write to me through the contact form in the navigation bar or email me at iskra (at) iskrafineart.com. My work may also be seen and purchased through Seattle Art Museum Gallery.
S E L E C T E D E X H I B I T I O N S
- 2017 SAM Gallery “Industrial Strength,” Three-person show, Seattle, Washington
- 2017 Chittendon Locks Centennial, “Splash,” (Group/Invitational), Seattle, Washington
- 2017 Center on Contemporary Art, “Make America Create Again,” (Group/Juried), Seattle, Washington
- 2017 Museo Gallery, “The Winter Show,” (Group/Invitational), Langley, Washington
- 2016 Galvanize, “Tech and the Democratization of Art,” (Group/Invitational), Seattle, Washington
- 2016 Seattle Art Museum Gallery, “Prints Today,” Invitational
- 2016 Columbia City Gallery, “Confluence: The Duwamish River Project” (Group/Invitational), Seattle, Washington
- 2016 Museo Gallery, “The Garden Show,” (Group/Invitational), Langley, Washington
- 2015 Linda Hodges Gallery, “Seattle Seen,”(Group/Invitational), Seattle, Washington
- 2015 Arts at the Port, “Zeitgeist,” (Juried), Anacortes, Washington
- 2015 Alexis Hotel, Invitational, “Waterways”, Three-person, Seattle, Washington
- 2014 Seattle Art Museum Gallery, new architectural work for May exhibition
- 2014 Linda Hodges Gallery, “Making & Breaking,” (Group/Invitational), Seattle, Washington
- 2014 Zeitgeist, “Excavations: The Big Dig & Other Stories,” (Solo), Seattle, Washington
- 2013 Seattle Architecture Foundation, “World/City: Exploring the Architecture of Global Relationships,”(Group), Seattle, Washington
- 2013 Phinney Gallery, “Painters Under Pressure: A Decade of Discussion”, (Group), Seattle, Washington
- 2013 Bainbridge Arts & Crafts, “New Media: Digital Art”, (Group), Bainbridge Island, Washington
- 2013 Prographica Fine Works on Paper, “The Bleak View,” (Group), Seattle, Washington
- 2013 Steele Gallery, Gage Academy, Watercolor with Tom Hoffmann (Group)
- 2012 SAM Gallery at the Seattle Art Museum, “Contemplations of Nature,” (Group), Seattle, Washington
- 2012 Fraker/Scott, “Black and White,” (Two-person), Seattle, Washington
- 2011 Fraker/Scott “Icons,” (Juried Group) Seattle, Washington
- 2011 University House Wallingford “Circles” (Invitational) Seattle, Washington
- 2010 Port Angeles Fine Arts Center “Safe Harbor” (Juried Group) Port Angeles, Washington
- 2010 ArtSpace Printmaking and Photography Exhibition (Juried Group) Richmond, Virginia
- 2010 Seattle Print Arts at Patricia Cameron Gallery, (Invitational) Seattle, Washington
- 2009 Printmaking Exhibition, (Invitational) Wuhan Art Museum, Wuhan, China
- 2008 Two Wall Gallery (Juried) Art of Democracy, Vashon Washington
- 2008 ArtXchange, “What Does Compassion Look Like?” in honor of the visit of the Dalai Lama (Juried) Seattle, Washington
- 2008 Collective Visions Gallery Washington State Juried Competition, Bremerton, Washington
- 2007 Shakti Vinyasa (Solo Show) Seattle, Washington
- 2006 Seattle Print Arts at COCA, Seattle, Washington
- 2005 Painters Under Pressure, John Page Gallery, (Group) Seattle, Washington
Studio photos and portrait by Ben Calhoun