About the Cover Artist – Sherrie York

photo by Greg Smith
photo by Greg Smith

Thirty-something years ago I took a printmaking survey course that allowed students to study two of three techniques: relief, intaglio and silkscreen. I chose to learn intaglio and silkscreen because “Everyone knows how to do relief prints. They’re like rubber stamps, right?”
I loved etching, but without access to an intaglio press my printmaking practice came to a screeching halt at the end of class.
Ten years later I started dabbling in relief printing, because it was a process that required only simple carving tools, a brayer and a spoon. Fast forward another ten years and my dabbling turned to something a little more earnest. Linoleum blocks became my primary medium as I became intrigued by unexpected challenges – such as suggesting subtle complexities in a naturally bold and graphic technique. So much for ‘everyone’ knowing how to do them!
My multicolor prints are produced using the reduction method: If the image calls for white (paper color), I carve those areas out of my block, ink the block with the first color, and transfer the color to paper by rubbing with a spoon or baren (or running through my recently acquired press!). I print this first color on more sheets of paper than I want for my final edition because I know I will make mistakes along the way, and once I begin the next step I won’t be able to go back!
After I’ve printed the first color multiple times, I clean off the block and carve into it again, this time removing areas where I want to preserve the color printed previously. I ink the block with the second color, print the second color over the first on all prints, clean off the block … and carve some more. Carve, ink, rub, repeat for each color in the image – usually 10-20 passes per print.
Personal experiences inspire my work. I moved to Salida and the Upper Arkansas River valley in 2002, where I am anchored by the river’s riparian corridor and surrounded by high peaks and diverse forests. As I wander along the river edge or up a rocky trail, I am particularly drawn to subjects that might be overlooked if I were moving too quickly through the landscape, like a lone coot on an autumn pond or a tangle of decaying leaves. Such encounters suggest stories and lives we’re barely aware of in our self-absorbed rushing about. I hope that capturing these glimpses of the larger and smaller worlds around us will help viewers consider their own place in the community of living things.
Even when I’m not making prints, natural and cultural history and conservation are an important focus for me. I’ve been privileged to participate in projects with the Netherlands-based Artists for Nature Foundation, as well as work as an illustrator and instructor for many environmental organizations and natural resource agencies. I am a signature member of the Society of Animal Artists, and my work is included in museum, corporate and private collections around the world.
Many of my images can be found on my website: www.sherrieyork.com, and folks interested in my printmaking process can watch my work develop on my blog, Brush and Baren: www.brushandbaren.blogspot.com. In Salida my work can be seen at Cultureclash Gallery.