July 22, 2014


Emily Trespas  | in-progress proof print 
 "Gather"  |  July 2014

This July I am teaching Visual Studies to a group of rising Phillips Academy ninth graders. Last week we worked on relief prints. 

The students who finished their two required (portrait and place) plates could earn extra credit by creating another portrait .... but without the aid of Photoshop filters. In other words, they had to carve the translation from a color image directly into black and white shapes and textures on the relief block. 

A few students took to this challenge:  find a person/character from a magazine or art history book and create a new scene.

My example (above) was borrowed from Matisse's painting, "Nymph and Satyr." The open-ended possibilities of this reaching figure appealed to me; he could be reaching for something other than what the artist intended.

Part of this prompt involved the concept of "how artists may find inspiration." I explained to them my process.  The week before this project, I re-read Shirley Jackson's short story, The Lottery. The final line of the story is unforgettable: "And then they were upon her." 

When I saw this Satyr reaching for the Nymph, I thought of the young boy in Jackson's story who excitedly gathered his pile of stones. That the man in my print remains nude adds to a pure, vulnerable and animalistic presence.

Henri Matisse |  "Nymph and Satyr"  |  oil on canvas  | 1909

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