Tag Archives: Lithography

Meet the Artist in Residence: Lya Finston

Lya Finston, artist in residence at Main Street Arts during the month of January 2020, is working in one of our two studio spaces on our second floor. We asked Lya some questions about her work and studio practice:

Lya leading a plate lithography demonstration on an etching press at Spudnik Press in Chicago

Lya leading a plate lithography demonstration on an etching press at Spudnik Press in Chicago

Q: To start off, could you please tell us about your background?
I was born in Brooklyn and raised in Cranford, NJ, which isn’t far from Elizabeth and Newark if you’re familiar with the area. In May 2018, I graduated from Oberlin College in northeast Ohio with a BFA in Studio Art and German Language. Since then, I’ve been living in Chicago, IL with two friends and my cat, Leoni.

I decided to move to Chicago in 2017, after spending the best summer of my life interning at a printshop called Hoofprint in Pilsen (now in Mckinley Park). Liz Borne and Gabe Hoare, who run the space, became lifelong friends and role models of mine that summer. As an intern, I helped them with various publishing projects, ranging in media from screenprinting and lithography to cyanotype and relief. Gabe also trained me in stone lithography that summer, which has been my primary artistic medium ever since.

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Lya assisting Florida artist Bob Mueller with his edition of large-scale woodcuts, printed and published by Hoofprint in Chicago

Q: How long have you been making artwork? Did you go to school for art?
As early as 7 years old, I aspired to be an artist, singer, spy, and primatologist (a scientist that studies primates). Monkeys in leisurely poses with double lives as high school students and super heroes remained the central focus of my work for the majority of my early years. My list of future careers narrowed out over time, but I never could shake my love for drawing.

lunar

“Lunar Animals & Other Objects,” stone lithograph with screenprinted color

From the beginning of my time at Oberlin, I knew I’d major in art, but I fell into printmaking entirely by accident. I spent my freshman year floundering around various painting classes, uncertain where to land. I couldn’t get into the drawing class I wanted sophomore year, so, knowing nothing about it, I signed up for the same intro screenprinting class as my best friend. All of Oberlin’s print classes were taught by Kristina Paabus, who I’m infinitely blessed to still have as a mentor today. Everything about printmaking drew me in, from the process-driven nature of creating multiples, to the strong sense of community in all shared print spaces. During that first screenprinting class, I fell in love hard and fast, which left me eager to learn all the different branches of printmedia.

milkshake

“For Two,” stone lithograph

Q: Do you have a job other than making art?
For over a year and a half now, I’ve worked as a circulation assistant at the Ryerson and Burnham Library, which is an art and architecture library located within the Art Institute of Chicago. Working in a place where I’m surrounded by so many incredible artistic resources has been truly invaluable.

“Golem,” stone lithograph with screenprinted color

I bounce around between my apartment and three different studios in Chicago to make my own work. I continue to help out with publishing projects at Hoofprint in exchange for studio use and flatfile storage. I’m also a fellowship alum and current member of a community shop called Spudnik Press Cooperative, where I often go to screenprint. Because I work at the Art Institute, I have access to the School of the Art Institute’s printshop, as well. I’ve been lucky to print two stones there thus far, including the one above!

tree3

tree2

“Trees,” screenprinted butcher paper & cardboard tubes

Q: How would you describe your work?
These days, I work primarily in lithography, screenprinting and animation. However, throughout the span of my residency at Main Street Arts, I’ll be focusing on linoleum relief printing.

I’m primarily inspired by historical phenomena that are fantastic and surreal, but still contain hints of truth, especially when they overlap with the evolution of printmedia. My recent subject matter includes giant prehistoric sloths, Kabbalistic monsters,  regional cryptozoology, and lunar aliens.

"Triplets," stone lithograph on kitakata paper

“Triplets,” stone lithograph on kitakata paper

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
My creative process usually starts with some research. I’ll discover something I find beautiful, strange, and a little bit scary that resonates with my identity in some way — whether it be where I live, where I have lived, the kind of printmaking I do, or my jewish upbringing. Then I’ll do lots of reading and thinking about it. I’ll spend my breaks at the Ryerson looking at lots of art books, drawing inspiration from different image compositions and collecting reference photos.

Next, I’ll start sketching out designs that contextualize my subject in a narrative, and often humorous way. Over time, I’ve learnt it’s important for my prints to tell stories, for me to laugh and make others laugh when I talk about them, and for me to exercise my love of drawing.

"Incident on S Professor St," stone lithograph

“Incident on S Professor St,” stone lithograph

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
I’ve recently become fascinated with a phenomenon known as the “Great Moon Hoax.” In 1835, a newspaper called the New York Sun published a series of articles detailing the invention of a new telescope that allowed astronomers to see all sorts of fantastic happenings on the moon, including bat-winged humanoids, vast plains of giant amethyst crystal, and blue, bipedal beavers acquainted with the use of fire. All the images supplementing these reports were printed traditionally as stone lithographs and reliefs. When these articles were released, people believed them, since publications like these were how the masses normally received “factual” information on current events.

A lithograph of the hoax's "man-bats" relaxing near a distant "lunar temple", as printed in The Sun

A lithograph of the hoax’s “man-bats” relaxing by a distant “lunar temple,” as printed in The Sun

Lunar scene, from a Welsh edition of the moon hoax

Relief print from a Welsh edition of the moon hoax

The Great Moon Hoax’s 19th century impact isn’t so different from the way misinformation pervades the internet today. During my time at Main Street Arts, I’d like to complete a project that speaks to these consistencies in both a warning and humorous light.

As an artist in residence at Main Street Arts, I plan to complete an edition of books illustrating the original text from the New York Sun’s Moon Hoax articles. I’ll render these illustrations as linoleum-cut reliefs  in order to achieve an antiquated look that’s contemporaneous with the phenomenon I’m referencing.  I’d also like to experiment with incorporating my prints into various pop-up book techniques.

Linoleum relief stamps carved by Lya and Atlan Arceo-Witzl

Linoleum relief stamps carved by Lya and Atlan Arceo-Witzl

Q: What’s next for you?
I have a few projects lined up once I return to Chicago. Last year, I started collaborating with some writer friends of mine by illustrating, designing, and screenprinting their texts in the form of short booklets. I’m currently wrapping up an 8-page review of various menu items from the chicken-finger-centric, fast food restaurant Raising Cane’s. Next on my list are a comprehensive ranking of the Air Bud franchise, and a scholarly review of a dark, imaginary sequel to the classic Adam Sandler rom com, 50 First Dates. Chicago’s thriving zine and comics scene was my main inspiration for this project, along with a growing desire to incorporate more humor and collaboration into my work.

Lya printing at Spudnik Press Cooperative in Chicago

Within the next year or two, I hope to participate in the Printer Training Program at Tamarind Institute. Tamarind is a school in Albuquerque, NM dedicated to education, research, and publishing projects in fine art lithography.

Q: Where else can we find you?
The best way to follow my work is on Instagram, where my handle is @thehottestdjinmiami. I also update my website regularly, which you can find at lyafinston.com.

From The Director: Heightened Awareness

roberto bertoia, gregory page, main street arts

Heightened Awareness (Installation shot)

The themes that are explored in this exhibition are a nod to the fact that we (human beings) don’t fully experience life. Seldom do we allow ourselves to fully experience all of the subtle nuances that exist in our world. Many of us are glued to glowing screens, experiencing things removed from real time and processed through a social media feed. This mediated existence leaves us missing out on things in the moment and maybe some of us don’t care about that. Perhaps we relish in the fact that technology and human life are becoming one and the very idea of “being in the moment” is changing, however, it is a certainty that there are other things happening that are worthy of our attention.

Left: LPV No. 3 (Detail) by Roberto Bertoia; Right: Motifs From ISU Greenhouse (Detail) by Gregory Page

Left: LPV No. 3 (Detail) by Roberto Bertoia; Right: Motifs From ISU Greenhouse (Detail) by Gregory Page

Heightened Awareness presents the work of Roberto Bertoia and Gregory Page, two artists who are interested in these ideas and their work comes from a place of slowing down and noticing the quiet moments in life. Both artists have a desire to be aware of the minute details of their surroundings. This exhibition is a contemplation on being present in the moment and truly experiencing things.

Gregory Page, Lithography

The translucent film for the print “Euonymus Alatus Burning Bush , State 1″ by Gregory Page

Gregory Page has 11 large-scale lithographs featured in the exhibition and each of them utilize his own unique process of drying plants, rehydrating them in a lithographic drawing solution, and arranging them on a translucent film which is then used to make the final printing plate. The plants he uses in his work come from as close as his own backyard and as far away as Edinburgh, Scotland. For Greg, it is about experiencing nature and plant life first-hand.

“I love getting up in the morning, getting in the garden and getting my hands in the dirt. Moving some compost around, planting something and watching it grow. The garden has been a real inspiration for me for a long time.” —Gregory Page

Gregory page, Lithograph, Main Street Arts

“Motifs from ISU Greenhouse, Selection II” (detail) by Gregory Page

It is also about cataloging and making a record of things that exist in our world. With nature in a state of flux, it becomes important to create a record of things as they existed in a certain moment in time.

The sculpture of Roberto Bertoia is made with second-hand, salvaged pieces of wood. He turns them into something new, something other than what was originally intended. He uses his material in an intuitive way, building without a solidified plan, similar to a painter responding to each brushstroke. Through this organic and fluid process his finished pieces are an homage to architecture and design and create interesting relationships between the interior and exterior.

Roberto Bertoia, Sculpture

“Untitled 1″ (detail) by Roberto Bertoia

He enjoys the paradox of seeing and not seeing and contemplating what is hidden and what is revealed. Roberto’s sculpture can be a metaphor for the ways we hide and reveal specific things about ourselves. The subtle moments that slowly shape our perspective on how we interact with people and the world we create for ourselves is something that he finds inspiring.

Roberto Bertoia, Sculpture

“Where Am I To Live” by Roberto Bertoia

“I try to be open and receptive to what’s going on around me. What may seem everyday or mundane may seem more important when I end up in the studio.” —Roberto Bertoia

The notion of slowing down and paying attention is not a new idea but it is one that we are constantly reminded of. Specifically, I think this is the way that we should experience art. Instead of breezing through an exhibition or merely scrolling through an artist’s Instagram feed, let’s spend some time thinking in front of the actual artwork. We may be surprised by where this small, yet meaningful  experience will take us.


The exhibition Heightened Awareness will run through Friday,  August 17, 2018 and you can view available work on the gallery’s Artsy page.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Gregory Page: Motifs From My Back Yard

The following images show my printmaking process.  The photos are from a project completed while I was on sabbatical leave in 2013. Three print were produced and several unique impressions at Normal Editions Workshop at Illinois State University in the College of Fine Arts School of Art, Normal, Illinois.

I worked with Professor Richard Finch (Director of Normal Editions), Veda Rives (Associate Director), and Christopher Hagen and Alyssa Tauber (both graduate students in the Department of Art).  I also worked with Jessica Chambers (Director of the Horticulture Center at Illinois State University) and Professor Don Schmidt (Dean of the School of Biological Sciences and Director of the Biological Sciences Greenhouse Collection at the Felmley Annex). I also visited the Rapp Agricultural Building Greenhouse.

Collecting the plants:

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Drying the plants:

Drying the plants

Soaking the leaves:

Soaking the leaves

Leaves in the tray coated with tusche:

Leaves in the tray coated with tusche

Leaves are placed on Artex film:

Leaves placed on Artex Film

Leaves dry and are removed from the film:

Leaves dry and removed from film

The exposed plate:

Exposed Plate

Printing:

Printing

The plate is printed:

The Plate is printed

The prints are signed:

The Prints are signed.

The finished prints:

Motif From ISU Greenhouse Selections I

Motif From ISU Greenhouse Selections I

Motifs From Greenhouse Selections II

Motifs From Greenhouse Selections II

Motifs From Greenhouse Selections I & II

Motifs From Greenhouse Selections I & II

Prints in the Upstate New York Printmaking Invitational at Main Street Arts:

Gregory Page

Gregory Page


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Gregory Page’s prints in our current exhibition the Upstate New York Printmaking Invitational (runs through October 7).

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by printmaker Minna Resnick.