On my second afternoon of wandering through Asheville’s River Arts District I wandered through another old industrial building converted into a multitude of artists studios. In the main entry a collection of artist works were hung on the walls and one caught my eye. It featured a crow. Have you read Gifts of the Crow by Marzluff and Angell? It’s as much science as literature and tells about how truly intelligent these avians are. There is a crow family that nests somewhere near my house that I love to caw back and forth with. Oh – and I also just happened to be listening to a young adult novel by Tamora Pierce called Trickster’s Choice that features crows as well. She is one of my favorite authors and this set is the fourth series set in the same fictional land. All of them feature young women who choose unconventional paths against the odds.
Anyway – back to the art. Around the corner more crows caught my eye. This time the layered texture and imagery stopped me short and drew me in. So did the label… I love printmaking and artists who use this art form but wasn’t sure what a collograph was.I wandered some more and in a tiny back corner by the window I was delighted to find Dona at work, carving out a block for a new logo. Flying Rhino Studios. I love it. An ungainly, very much NOT aerodynamic, prehistoric, tough-as-nails creature with wings. In flight. What a lovely metaphor for us – don’t pay attention to what others say you can or cannot achieve. Flight is available to anyone.
I think I might have just developed a new love for these creatures. Rhinoceroses. (Yup – I looked it up.)
Isn’t he sweet? I also asked about collographs. Dona showed me a few of her collograph plates and explained the process. Things are adhered to a plate (grasses, rope, whatever you choose to make your texture with) and then sealed so they are waterproof. Ink is applied but then wiped off before printing with it so that it’s mostly outlines that are printed. There is something extraordinarily beautiful to me about Dona’s layers of texture and pattern. There is a juxtaposition of organic chaos and controlled drawing and pattern. It speaks to me.
The layered transparency of her imagery has a balance of order vs. chaos. It is a quiet kind of almost control.
We also ended up talking for a while. Life. Children. Sorrows. Joys. The artwork, the discussion of its creation, making a deep personal connection with another soul – I feel enriched for the experience.
If you are in Asheville, NC I encourage you to treat yourself to time spent wandering the River Arts district. Absorb the art. Take time to stop and chat with the working artists. Tell them why you like their art and ask them questions. Dona is at 375 Depot St. in Trackside Studios… near the back and with a window.
If you can’t make it there take some time to peruse Dona Barnette’s website and enjoy her artwork. Tell her Lyric said hello!