Friday, February 25, 2011

From Courtney Wasson’s hands: woodblock prints at Mildred’s Coffeehouse

Process. An over-used word. Process vs. Product; a good discussion topic. The artist in relation to the art; a popular narrative. I’m not sure where I stand on all this but Courtney Wasson taught me a few things the other day while we discussed these topics, her art, her process. In the midst of our talk, Henry slept peacefully while the coffee grinder sang and the aromas drifted in Mildred’s in the Crossroads.

Courtney has a show at Mildred’s right now; bold yet detailed black and white woodblock prints, one painting. Hands play a part in the subject matter. Flowers too. Scrolls with poetic suggestion. An anchor and more hands on deck. Symbols symbolic to Courtney, symbols you may find suggestive. A few pieces remind me of tattoos. One large print with hands, one black, one white, complete with an excerpt from Courtney’s journal. Personal words made public.

Henry awakens and smiles at his Mom. Courtney’s hands lift and cradle Henry who gazes across the lunch crowd, his big blue eyes bright, his three months a big rich part of Courtney’s process. Nothing like a child to change one’s perspective about life. It’s motivating. Nothing like a child can teach one about process, learning, and change. There’s a deep well of Courtney on the wall, but I sense Henry has had something to do with this show.

About this process thing. Courtney loves it. She revels in the journey from idea to destruction; the A to Z of woodblock printing. You heard right; destruction. Brain and hands, imagination and patience create a relief image on a block of wood. Paper selection (she loves paper), ink, pressing, mistakes, fixes, start-overs, printing, print, dry, trim, frame maybe, hang, asorb…then destroy. Not the print, the block. It’s called marring the block. From dream to destruction…but there’s a beyond, actually.

After the marring, I sense there’s this cyclical whirlpool of continuity. What we see is the effect of the process, the print itself. What’s rich to me about this artifact and the process is it’s basic primordial nature in relation to our over digitized informed existence today. This art form reminds me of baking bread.

Henry eyes the crust of his Mom’s sandwich and we wonder what he’s thinking. Hard to fathom the processes turning in his fresh intellect. Interesting to think of what Henry will learn as he watches Mom create and process her art at her dining room table studio in the coming months. Not long until he’ll grab a pen and draw something, a first line.

What’s next for Courtney? Color. She wants to explore the multidimensional four-tiered-chess game-like process of making colored woodblock prints. Try re-reading Alice Through the Looking Glass, think of yourself on the reverse side of a mirror, looking at yourself. Dig deep to the background of what you see right now and move your eyes and mind forward…then back again. My brain hurts.

I envy Henry. His brain’s growing like a dense green jungle with ample rain and plenty of sunlight. He probably understands this process better than Mom right now with his luminous blue eyes that see the world in an amazing way, untrained, early in the process. After all this brain candy, Henry needs another nap.

And after meeting with Courtney and appreciating her journey and her love of process, I can picture her at her dining room table this afternoon awake, processing and dreaming while Henry dreams fast asleep..."...the artist begins".

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