Randi Reiss-McCormack works in mixed-media, with a focus on printmaking and painting. Her painting work delves into the textured aspects of pulp-painting, and tuft-painting, while her printmaking work utilizes the characteristics of many different techniques. The character of her work comes from this chemistry of processes, and the interplay of images both recognizable and abstract. She is based in Baltimore, Maryland, where she works as an artist, adjunct professor and is the associate director for Sol Print Studio, a studio in Baltimore with a focus on non-toxic printmaking. She first attended the Green Printmaking Certificate program at Zea Mays and then returned for a two-week residency a year later in 2018. 

Reiss-McCormack used her visits to the studio to both expand her professional knowledge, and add to her own artistic toolset. “I was interested in the certificate for the work I do in a studio here in Baltimore, which specializes in photopolymer print projects for individual artists. I wanted to enhance my knowledge in the latest green practices and I wanted to reacquaint myself with copper etching techniques for my own practice and studio. The residency was to further cement the green practices techniques of copper etching and the professional set up of my studio for my own work. It was also time to develop these new ways of mark making into my current practice of printmaking.” 

She found her experience provided two-fold, firstly it allowed a collaboration of information between her own studio and Zea Mays. Secondly, as a mixed-media artist, her residency helped her grow the variety of mark-making techniques she could use in her work. She explains, “I know I learned a wealth of techniques that I was happy to see I could replicate and trouble shoot myself, if need be, in my own studio, that was very important to me. Also, importantly, the green techniques meant to replace some traditional techniques fostered experimenting and some new beautiful mark making. The double intent was to further the work in my own prints and this is an ongoing experience.  I am discovering different ways to apply copper techniques into my own printing practice and to my own mixed-media work in general.  I work in paint, print and textile work and their processes inform each other.”

In particular, Reiss-McCormack says she felt her ability to work in copper back in her studio was strengthened. “My time at ZMP truly prepared me to adjust my studio to develop copper plates and successfully follow through on the techniques I learned.  It was important to me to be able to fully realize what  I was able to do at ZMP myself in my own studio. Certainly the mark making I was experimenting with in copper is something I continue to experiment with and work into my own printing vocabulary. I would say that this increased repertoire of marks has definitely influenced the way I make prints, whether in photopolymer or copper.” She adds, in reference to her focus on non-toxic printmaking, “I feel much more confident in finding greener print practices and how to absorb them into my process in a way that is not only safer but enables me to improve on the quality of the print itself.  I am also able to communicate ways to others in how to enrich their own practice.”

The synergy of the different mediums Reiss-McCormack uses play into the way she works on her pieces. She explains, “Each process has different procedures and I find I use the constraints and strategies to lead  the work I do, so these new systems have had a deep effect on what I am doing in printmaking now.” This is also true of her approach to printmaking, and she appreciates having many printmaking techniques at her disposal for projects. She says, “I use different media in a kind of cyclical process, concentrating deeply on a project and then shifting to another medium for a while then back to the other.  The enrichment of my print practice has only enlarged my printing vocabulary and has even greater influence when I shift to works in paint and textile.  They all feed off each other and are deeply rooted in process. Since printmaking is such a technique heavy process, it is always a positive effect in my work, propelling me to experiment in all areas.”

This interdisciplinary collaborative approach to her work is also mirrored in her relationship to creative communities. Like many of us, Reiss-McCormack misses the communal art making experience. She says, “I think printmakers are constantly learning from each other and ZMP fosters this communal involvement.” She adds, “Zea Mays is a wonderful communal atmosphere where both quality printmaking practices and honoring of wonderful people is a daily activity.  The open source research that ZMP makes available to all is also a great way to foster cooperation and community among printmakers.  Looking forward to returning when the world is more hospitable!”

In the meantime, she has found that the changing times have taught her to cultivate and treasure the creative space of her studio. “I find when I walk into studio I enter a different world that I guard from the distractions of every day stuff,  so the pandemic has caused me to spend more time keeping that kind of stress out of the studio.  I think I have found that nature and the studio has become an even greater appreciated sanctuary.”

View Randi Reiss-McCormack’s variety of work at her website https://www.randireissmccormack.com/

Explore her practice on Instagram @randireissmccormack

And learn more about Sol Print Studio here https://solprintstudios.blogspot.com/