Susan Schmidt

I work in the tradition of observational drawing expanded by the possibilities of printmaking.  These prints explore variously constructed, woven baskets. This a subject that originated in an earlier project based on a fairytale. Prominent in this fairytale was a basket symbolizing the malicious entrapment of a girl and later in the story, her clever escape. I wondered about the basket in the fairytale. If a girl was forced to jump into a basket and be carried away, then what would the basket look like?

That question stayed in my mind and I took a closer look at it by drawing baskets. My drawings responded to the specificity of each basket’s structure and as I drew, I considered how it was constructed for particular work and shaped to our hands. I found that people responded to the work by lending me their unusual baskets. These familiar objects began to resonate with feeling as I drew them.

Concurrently I was using new materials, Akua inks, to make layered viscosity monotypes. They offered me unaccustomed colors and textures. The strategies of printmaking, such as layering and multiplicity, used with these new materials, provided a way to animate the familiar basket forms.  This series is leading me to drawings of other interwoven forms such as plants and vines. These living subjects inevitably bring other thoughts about our rapidly changing environment.

Following one idea to another, leading to an unknown outcome, is an uncertain process, discouraging, irrational, and in small moments truly exciting. This is why I make art and in particular chose the improvisational strategies of printmaking.  In Six Drawing Lessons William Kentridge describes drawing as  “…taking us from what we know to an image, a site, an insight we did not know we knew. Making a space for uncertainty. Making a safe space for uncertainty.”   These prints are part of that ongoing and uncertain process.