Inside the Artist’s Studio with KaKeART Collaborations

Born in Rochester NY and Prague Czechoslovakia the KaKeART partnership began in graduate school at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where Tatana Kellner and Ann Kalmbach met  in the printmaking studio as exiles from the painting department. After graduate school, they arrived in Rosendale to help form the Women’s Studio Workshop, a not for profit artists’ workspace in 1974.

Scene Around Rosendale Cover

Scene Around Rosendale , 1982

Being interested in making our art more accessible to the public, we began publishing artists’ books in 1979, beginning with Scene Around Rosendale , a series of postcards of historic, contemporary and generic pastoral images readily found in local shops.

Scene Around Rosendale 2011

Scene Around Rosendale ,2011

We re-visited this theme again in 2001 and 2010, being interested in how our town has changed, while maintaing it’s essential character, as a town that grew up around cement mining industry.

My 9 Migraine Cures

My 9 Migraine Cures, 1987

Our collaboration has been pretty consistent over the decades. The impetus can be anything, a personal experience My Nine Migraine Cures, chance encounter, an article read, or a word spoken.

Your Co-worker Could Be A Space Alien

Your Co-worker Could Be A Space Alien, 1985

Your Co-Worker Could be A Space Alien  was based on a tabloid article given to us by a friend.  Since then we have have worked together on 16 artists’ books and numerous installation projects.

Pistol Pistil cover

Pistol Pistil, 1997

Pistol Pistil 2

Pistol Pistil

Because Tatana immigrated to USA from Prague, some of the subtleties of language have fascinated her, which lead to Pistol/Pistil: Botanical Ballistics. We printed the book while being artists-in-residence at the University of Southern Maine. The students were encouraged to assist and observe our process of negotiating the linguistic terms, printing sequences, and color choices.

Domestic Policy, silkscreen on handmade paper 2005

Domestic Policy, silkscreen on handmade paper 2005

Collaboration is a fascinating, rewarding and sometimes frustrating process, but in the end you learn a lot about yourself and your collaborator.

Shoot 1

Shoot to Kill, 1997

Around the same time as Pistol/Pistil, the hotel in our neighborhood opened a police shooting range. We collected the abandoned targets and gathered them into a book Shoot to Kill, where each target is paired with a word. The entire text: DID YOU EVER WONDER WHY POLICE TARGETS ARE TORSOS? is subtitled SHOOT TO KILL.
Here we debated at length if to include the word black, in the end deciding not to, since one of the targets we found was not a silhouette, but a fully clothed figure.

Shoot to Kill

Shoot to Kill, installed on the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, August 2015

In the summer of 2015, in the context of ‘black lives matter’ movement, we installed the targets on a rail trail, as part of a public art festival.

The Golden Rule

The Golden Rule, 2015

Our latest collaboration was The Golden Rule, an installation and an artist’s book. Both of these are are meditations on the unending quest to fulfill the golden rule. We lettered the text from 13 different religions on the rail trail. As the trail was biked, ran or walked on, the text slowly disappeared. In the book, the reader is confronted with a blind embossing of the text in one of the original languages, followed by handwritten, slowly dissolving translation. Only after leafing through to the next page is one able to read the tenet. This is contrasted with newspaper clippings of petty crime and punishment.

Ann Kalmbach and Tatana Kellner collaborate as KaKeART to produce humorous and politically charged works ranging from postcards, artists’ books and public interventions. They are also co-founders of Women’s Studio Workshop.

Stop by Main Street Arts to see their artwork in our current exhibition, Ink and Paper (runs through Friday, March 25). Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by artist Nick Marshall.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Nick Marshall

Hi everyone, my name is Nick Marshall. My recent work, _e_scapes,  is included in Main Street Art’s exhibition “Ink and Paper” and this post will hopefully give you a little more insight to my practice.

_e_scapes started with a series of photographs I made in 2012-13. The images depict found snapshots of seaside vacations that are floating in a chromatic pool of color sampled from the air or water in the vernacular images via the eye dropper tool.

_e_scape

_e_scape

_e_scapes

_e_scape

Shortly after making the photographs I started on a series of paintings that would eventually be exhibited under the same title and hang parallel to the image based works. I didn’t have a studio at the time so I was working out of the living room in my one bedroom apartment.

This would be a good time to mention what I do with the majority of my hours during the week. I’ve been working at the George Eastman Museum since 2010 and was promoted to manager of exhibitions and programs in 2013. In addition to overseeing the installation of the museums exhibitions, I work closely with the curators and creative director to design and layout the shows.  This usually includes us looking through swatch books and laughing at some of the absurdly named paint colors. A few of my personal favorites, “Grandma’s Sweater 787″ and “Applesauce Cake 316-5″.

But really what was of interest to me was the way that the paint manufactures were assigning names and numbers to colors that were intended to represent nature, specifically air and water.

After an exhibition of the work at the Hartnett Gallery in Rochester, Tate Shaw, the director of Visual Studies Workshop, invited me to do a month long residency at VSW with the goal of making a book that would include some of the sketches I’d made for the paintings. I had never made a book before but I’d always wanted to so I jumped at the opportunity. At first my progress was a little slow. It was very difficult for me to take the sketches off the wall and not think about them that way. Once I got them in somewhat of a book form though the sequencing became really exciting and everything started to come together.

VSW Project Space

VSW Project Space (March 2015)

VSW Project Space (March 2015)

VSW Project Space (March 2015)

I also used my time at the residency to think about another series I’d been working on of straight images that I knew were related to color and the landscape but couldn’t quite figure out how to tie everything together. Seeing them in the space with the paint swatches made everything click and I began incorporating the swatches. This work is still in progress but it was an added bonus to working in the studio and being able to see these intersections of my work that I hadn’t previously.

VSW Project Space (March 2015)

VSW Project Space (March 2015)

VSW Project Space (March 2015)

VSW Project Space (March 2015)

At the end of the residency I had produced my first draft of the book.  Subsequent drafts would not include the suitcase images and the final version of the book has a different cover that was designed by Travis Johansen and I am MUCH happier with it.

1st draft of _e_scapes book

1st draft of _e_scapes book

1st draft of _e_scapes book

1st draft of _e_scapes book

The book starts with Dawn’s Early Light C57-1 and progresses through the day, enduring a rainstorm with the sun eventually coming back out and fading into a Peaceful Night 590F-7.

page layout from "_e_scapes"

page layout from “_e_scapes”

page layout from "_e_scapes"

page layout from “_e_scapes”

page layout from "_e_scapes"

page layout from “_e_scapes”

page layout from "_e_scapes"

page layout from “_e_scapes”

I hope you can make it out to see Ink and Paper at Main Street Arts. There are a lot of really great books and I’m grateful to be a part of the exhibition.

View Nick’s artwork online at www.n-marshall.com. Stop by Main Street Arts to see his artwork in our current exhibition, Ink and Paper (runs through Friday, March 25). Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by book artist Amanda Chestnut.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Amanda Chestnut: Exploring Racial Identity Through Artist’s Books

Growing up out side of Binghamton, New York afforded me a bucolic, nonpareil childhood that combined a rigorous academic environment with a loving and supportive community. Largely sheltered from cultural strife, these seemingly unobtainable ideals are part of my motivation in asking difficult questions through my artwork.

Why do you have to make everything about race? installed at Visual Studies Workshop, Rochester, New York, January-February, 2015

Why do you have to make everything about race? installed at Visual Studies Workshop, Rochester, New York, January-February, 2015

Why can’t life be perfect? Where does this historic burden come from, and do we all carry it, even if only some of us actively choose to? In earning an MFA in visual studies from Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, New York, I developed the ability to ask these questions through my artwork. Experiences at VSW formed who I am as an artist today.

from The Frederick Douglass Archive Project, in collaboration with Rare Books and Special Collections at the University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, 2013

from The Frederick Douglass Archive Project, in collaboration with Rare Books and Special Collections at the University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, 2013

I have been making photographs for 20 years, and had entered VSW with the intension of continuing to do so. I left VSW making books, instillations, and writing poetry. At VSW I learned to look to artists like Elizabeth Tonnard and Claudia Rankine for inspiration, as they deftly walk the line between literature and image art while exploring political ideas. The late artist and exhibitions guru Rick Hock would often ask us, “Why photographs?” He emphasized the necessity of choosing an appropriate medium for all works. Rick’s influence encouraged me in my explorations of poetry, bookmaking, and alternative mediums (like hair).

Actress Mae Johnson and Athlete Jesse Owens, in the folder "African Americans/Civil Rights/Jesse Owens," Part of the Soibelman Collection of Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, New York, 2013

Actress Mae Johnson and Athlete Jesse Owens, in the folder “African Americans/Civil Rights/Jesse Owens,” Part of the Soibelman Collection of Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, New York, 2013

Through VSW I was able to speak with artist Carla Williams, who validated my efforts in finding my voice as an artist of color. Finding this voice and using it well is a continual thought for me; I find Langston Hughes’ essay The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain from 1926 to be an interesting exploration of what it is to be an artist of color in America.

Since graduating a year ago in 2015, I’ve had residency opportunities at the Center for Photography at Woodstock in Woodstock, New York, and at the Genesee Center for Arts and Education, where I am currently in residence in Printing and Book Arts.

Cyanotype Book 4 was made during my time at Woodstock. The materials were in large part a felicitous combination of available materials and a printer that was insistent on not working. While waiting for technology to cooperate, I explored the cyanotypes, eventually compiling them into four unique yet similar books. My hair has been a continuing theme in my work because it has been a continuing theme in my life, as it is for many women of color. I spent many years allowing myself to be defined by my hair. This single feature, more than any other part of my body, has been used by others to measure how black I am, how white I am, how smart I am, how much money I have, and how much I am worth as an individual. While I know this is a societal/cultural burden that I do not have to make my own, I can’t help but explore why hair means so much.

I often ask myself, “How do I quantify hurt?” I wonder if the struggles that my my parents faced as an interracial couple, the brutality faced by my father because of the color of his skin, and the atrocities that were committed upon his ancestors all reside in me somewhere.

Through my books I have learned that my personal history is a shared history. I’ve been approached by many people with statements of solidarity. While many of the experiences that drive my work are deeply personal and often private in nature, in sharing them I’ve learned I’m not alone. This gives me strength to continue carrying this historical burden.

View Amanda’s artwork online at www.amandachestnut.com. Upcoming shows and classes, current projects, and cat photos can be found on Instagram @mandanut.

Stop by Main Street Arts to see her artwork in our current exhibition, Ink and Paper (runs through Friday, March 25). Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by mixed media artist Peter Sowiski.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Peter Sowiski: Papermaker

I was born in Pittsburgh, trained as a printmaker in Ohio, and spent my teaching career at SUNY Buffalo State. I began making paper for prints almost forty years ago, and since that time have been led down a road of broadened involvement with paper as a medium.

Rooster, 2005, colored pulps, relief, screen print

Rooster, 2005, colored pulps, relief, screen print

The work has been a personal affirmation of both the image and its support, which has formed the basis of my philosophy as a pulp painter- that economy of equipment and processes can yield complexity and sophistication. Looking at military might through these pieces keeps us aware of the high tech, high stakes times we find ourselves in.

Little Bird detail, 2013, colored pulps

Little Bird detail, 2013, colored pulps

I usually work over a base sheet formed in a Nepalese or Asian style. I paint with thin applications of pigmented abaca or cotton fiber. With stock batches of the primaries plus black, I use turkey basters and custom containers for applications of thin washes, enabling quick adjustments of color and consistency. Additionally, I stencil, pour, spray, hand manipulate, or do whatever it takes to drive the image into being. In printed works, I employ traditional processes along with the paper approaches.

pulling base sheet

pulling base sheet

The pieces spring from remembered visions, rooted in diverse sources. I recall my early All-American attraction to weaponry as favorite toys. This connects to my adult fascinations and fears as represented from the late 90′s onward in simple, darker works. I have been making studies of strategic aircraft and service personnel for large installations as well as smaller, intimate print combinations. The works tip a hat to impressionism, photographic “focus,” traditions of printmaking, pattern and pop art, and seek symbiosis between the delicate physical qualities of the paper and the powerful visual qualities of subject, so that they cohere on even terms.

Light Attack, 2013-16, detail, colored pulps

Light Attack, 2013-16, detail, colored pulps

View Peter’s artwork online at www.abaca-press.com/peter/about.html. Stop by Main Street Arts to see his artwork in our current exhibition, Ink and Paper (runs through Friday, March 25). Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by book and multimedia artist Candace Hicks.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Candace Hicks

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My studio is starting to look like a depot for packing materials. I have had a lot of work out lately, and it’s all come back at the same time. These boxes held wooden boxes with illusionistic rooms inside.

Cloud illusion 2

The rooms are constructed so that the cloud that floats back and forth appears to shrink and grow as it traverses the room.  These photos were taken without the fish-eye lens that smoothes the illusion.  A room that is smaller on one side with a sloped floor is known as an Ames room.

Cloud illusion

A miniature servo attached to a wheel pulls the cloud back and forth.

Inside Ames

With the fish-eye lens in place the room looks straight.  Many years ago I made comic strips starring a cloud.  Not just any cloud! This was a thought cloud, the sort that normally appears in comics.  In my comic strips the thought cloud was the character.  In my Ames room sculptures, the cloud has returned and paces like a bored prisoner.

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Here I’m adding a separate battery pack for the lights.  Soon it will be time to repack them and ship them to the next exhibit.

View Candace’s artwork online at www.candacehicks.com. Stop by Main Street Arts to see her artwork in our current exhibition, Ink and Paper. The exhibition is up through Friday, March 25. Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by printmaker and book artist Jenna Rodriguez.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Jenna Rodriguez: An Educator, Papermaker, Printmaker, and Book Artist

I have been an artist and art educator for the past 8 years. The past year and half I was the Victor Hammer Fellow at Wells College Book Arts Center in Aurora, NY. The fellowship allowed me to teach fifty percent of the time and create my own body of work fifty percent of the time.

My work focuses on creating a sense of place within my current geographical location. I attempt to connect with the local community while exploring the public and private experience of social engagement to create work that inspires self-reflection, thoughts, and human connection. Through the use of language and social engagement in the public sphere, I explore everyday life, which opens a dialogue, allowing me to investigate different avenues to create narratives. I seek to give our private thoughts a voice, and our public thoughts an amplifier. By giving them a voice, it empowers their creators and allows us to stop, listen, enjoy and realize that everyone, all around us, drinks from the same cup of humanness. I considers myself a collector, observer, and artist.

Different Spaces  I Create In

When I lived in Chicago I collected authentic thoughts that occur while in commute on public transportation. I asked every stranger that sat next to me on the train to participate. I transformed the project in a letterpress Printed Accordion Book with a downloadable soundscape and a video installation. You can view both pieces here: Running Thoughts

Cayuga Nation: Now & Then is a three hole pamphlet stitch book structure and was offset printed. I printed this book during a residency I had at Columbia College Chicago in the Center for Book and Paper Arts.  Three weeks after I moved to the shores of Cayuga Lake, the local gas station was barricaded with trucks, police and members of the local Cayuga Tribe. This event inspired me to explore the long history of the Cayuga Nation and the events that lead to the recent conflict within the tribe itself. Depending on which cover you open first you receive a different story. One side of the book tells the “Now” story (current issues) and the other side tells the “Then” story (history) of the tribe. I created this two-sided artist book to showcase my own observations, experiences, and research on the Cayuga Nation.

My most recent project is called Still. It memorializes roadkill I encountered in the Finger Lakes of Upstate New York. Moving from Chicago, IL to Aurora, NY I was overwhelmed with my daily encounter of roadkill. The book transforms into a creative non-fiction narrative allowing me to connect with my environment. The deceased animals were found on my daily commute and treated with respect. The cover is handmade paper to resemble asphalt. The book proceeds with an image of crows around an animal to represent the flight of their soul. Following is a pullout map indicating where animals were found. Animals are letterpress printed in two colors with linoleum blocks and polymer plates. A veterinarian allowed me to take x-rays, which are printed on transparent paper with vertical text stating statistics about roadkill. Each animal has an obituary that states factual and humorous information with a pullout photograph showing the crime scene and the longitude and latitude. At the end of the project a private ceremony was held where the animals were buried on an island to pay respect and give thanks.

My Process for “Still”

Final Product

This project has turned into something much larger than only an artist book. I have created handmade paper using the animals, I created an animation about the animals, I created screen-prints of the animals and then did embroidery work on top of the  prints. All of this work will be in a solo exhibition called Still at The String Room Gallery at Wells College in Aurora, NY. If you you are in the area you should come for the opening in Mid April.

View Jenna’s artwork online at www.jennarodriguez.com. Stop by Main Street Arts to see Jenna’s artwork in our current exhibition, Ink and Paper. The exhibition is up through Friday, March 25. Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by book artist Alicia Taylor.

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Alicia Taylor

visual journal 00001

One of the best ways I’ve found to focus my scattered mind is to allow myself to be completely captivated by the elements of the earth. I grew up in a house overlooking a large body of water and my fascination with water and the power that it can contain will never cease.

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I observe and investigate these natural forces as a way to process my own bodily experience in this very tangible world and think about ways to perhaps reach for those parts of it that are intangible.

ataylor_insidecover

My studio  practice feels most like an evolving  cartography and an attempt find pattern  in the mapping of my mind and it’s movement through the ideas that hold my attention. The first book I ever made was in 3rd grade, titled “Why Pine Trees Don’t Lose Their Leaves” (below) in which I wrote an imagined story about the Pine Tree being bravest and most determined of all the trees to grow tall enough to reach the great tree spirit in the sky. When he did, he was rewarded by getting to keep his needles all year long.

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I included this here because there’s a distinct connection between my childhood instincts and curiosities that my current work is diving deeper into, dealing with the desire to understand why things happen the way they do.

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My ongoing book project began a couple years ago, while I was living with and caring for my grandfather who was progressing quickly through the stages of dementia. During this time, I found a handwritten poem titled “The Search” in a plastic bag at a thrift store. I understood the poem to be a placeholder for what my grandfather would never again be able to articulate. I began writing in his voice, and collecting and scanning the thousands of images he’d taken during his lifetime as a way to understand him and the loss he was encountering daily.

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I became increasingly interested in the way our minds work and spent a lot of time researching the physical/medical aspects of memory and memory loss. I found peace in the way everything in our bodies, down to the forms and lines of cells and nerves  could be mapped out, labeled, and understood in a scientific sense, like the image above. I made lots of drawings and paintings in reaction to this.

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I also took pictures everyday, following my interest in conveying time and change through the evidence of it in my environment.

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The manipulation of material, in the form of recycling paper and re-casting it as a new form brought a level of hope to the process for me. The above sculpture was made after turning my childhood sandbox into a big vat for pulling large handmade sheets of paper, only possible with the collaboration of my family members. These collaborative actions are what I understand now to be the thread that can link this project together.

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This book will likely be in the works for a couple more years, as it’s something I need time and space away from to  be able to navigate effectively. So there are a lot of other projects that dominate my time in the studio.

studio1 ice study

Right now, it’s textile projects, collaborative paintings and returning to the study of water as it undulates between freezing and thawing in the many tributaries in the forest behind my house.

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View Alicia’s artwork online at www.aliciahopetaylor.com. Stop by Main Street Arts to see Alicia’s artwork in our current exhibition, Ink and Paper. The exhibition is up through Friday, March 25. Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by Rochester printmaker and photographer Rebecca Lomuto.

Inside the Studio with Rebecca Lomuto: Beyond the Medium

silver gelatin, 2014

silver gelatin, 2014

I have always been concerned with the human figure as a subject. My photographs began as dreary and lovely, using friends as models or rather, place holders. I became less fascinated by the person and more by the form. Eventually, while studying overseas in Florence, Italy, I became less reliant on others to provide that shape and more interested in how to use my own body in my compositions. Thus began a long photographic journey in self-portraiture.

from the series, Between the Real and the Imagined. 2013

from the series, Between the Real and the Imagined. 2013

Soft ground and aquatint on zinc. 2015

Soft ground and aquatint on zinc. 2015

Previously, I had studied etching and book arts at a very casual level during undergrad— it seemed to be just an outlet for my frustrations, when a photographic project was still in its developmental stage. It was exciting to learn new techniques and to relate them to what I already know; I still believe that my initial draw to making etchings was because of the similarities in the richness of tone and value in between an etching and a photograph.

phototransfer, aquatint on zinc. 2013

phototransfer, aquatint on zinc. 2013

After graduation, while traveling, I found myself printing cyanotypes from my bedroom, until I became involved with the Community Darkroom at the Genesee Center for the Arts and Education. It was there that I began playing with my collected images from a year out of school. Eventually, I stumbled upon the Printing and Book Arts area, possibly during the phase where I was putting images in books— and inquired about the space. Being predominantly a letterpress shop, I spoke to Mitch Cohen at length about how how plausible and fruitful it would be to incorporate a greater variety of printmaking processes in our studio.

aquatint on zinc. 2015.

aquatint on zinc. 2015.

After establishing residency in the shop, and following Mitch’s lead (he’d acquired two etching presses that I currently use), I did my research. I visited other studios, both communal and private; worked alongside other printers, such as Bernice Cross, and began bringing in the materials to produce my own copper-etched plates at PABA. From my year as an artist in residence to today, we have been adjusting our studio to accommodate the ever-growing interest in creating etchings. It seems like our classes near-doubled in size since our very first etching class late 2014.

aquatint on copper, 2016

aquatint on copper, 2016

inked copper plates on the press bed from the book Speckles of Spit, a collaboration with writer Gregory Sutherland.

inked copper plates on the press bed from the book Speckles of Spit, a collaboration with writer Gregory Sutherland.

Working in a community space has been incredibly influential to my work. There is heart within the space and always another eye to offer feedback on something in the works. I often work with different types of artists, either visual or literary, on different book commissions. They provide the content and I build the book (sometimes, even incorporating my own imagery).

Community has become so important to me that I have developed a collaborative project, to extend the same experience to friends who do not have access to a community as vibrant that I take part in daily. (www.print-a-month.tumblr.com)

aquatint on copper. 2016

aquatint on copper. 2016

While I do tend to focus on using surreal imagery throughout each medium in my work, I find that my etchings tend to be more fairy-tale like. I often wake from a dream, with a feeling or a vision that influences the images that I print. Floating figures, abnormal interactions all come together by the enchanting effects of aquatint, soft ground, and some experimental processes. Currently, I am researching and playing with the ability to interchange photographic, printmaking and other processes to create one unified body of work.

A Glimmer, from the series We See Ourselves in Shadows. altered liquid light emulsion on papyrus. 2016

A Glimmer, from the series We See Ourselves in Shadows. altered liquid light emulsion on papyrus. 2016

archival inkjet print sewn on fabric. 2015.

archival inkjet print sewn on fabric. 2015.

View Rebecca’s artwork online at www.rebeccalomuto.com. Stop by Main Street Arts to see Rebecca’s prints in our current exhibition, Ink and Paper. The exhibition is up through Friday, March 25. Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by Rochester book artist Sue Huggins Leopard.