Tag Archives: screenprinting

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!

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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.

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.