Aesthetics of the Natural World: An Examination Through Printmaking

The Flora Kirsch Beck Gallery displays the prints of Kalamazoo artists Ladislav Hanka and Mary Brodbeck.

Through the precision of their art, Kalamazoo artists Ladislav Hanka and Mary Brodbeck provide a fresh perspective on the beauty of nature.

The Flora Kirsch Beck Gallery at Alma College opens the 2017 calendar year by displaying the printmaking works of Hanka and Brodbeck from Monday, Jan. 9 through Thursday, Feb. 9.

Gallery hours are 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturdays. A closing reception with the artists will be held Thursday, Feb. 9, from 7 until 9 p.m. Admission to the gallery is free and open to the public.

Animals as Creators of Art

Printmaking is an intricate and detailed process that these artists approach in different manners, says gallery director Dan Connolly. Hanka uses a style known as Intaglio, while Brodbeck utilizes the traditional Japanese technique known as Mokuhanga.

Intaglio consists of using metal plates with a wax overlay where the artist will first carve his or her work before submerging it into an acid bath. The acid then creates troughs in the metal that it comes into contact with. Troughs are subsequently filled with ink and pressed onto paper to create images. Several plates may be used in the creation of one image to vary line width and shading throughout.

Works similar to “The Great Wall of Bees: Intelligence of the Hive,” Hanka’s 2014 Art Prize entry, are displayed in the Alma exhibit. In these, Hanka exhibits his etchings in shallow enclosed boxes that allow bees to form hives around his work.

“These works are especially interesting considering that people don’t often think of animals as creators of art,” says Connolly.

Landscape Images Difficult to Create

Mokuhanga is a form of printmaking that incorporates woodblocks and relief prints. With each block, artists carve away any portion that won’t show up in the final product. Several blocks must be used as each color must be applied separately. Once painted, each block must then be pressed onto the paper and aligned perfectly with those pressed before it.

Brodbeck’s work will concentrate on landscapes.

“Her work has a clean sharp focus that employs sparseness in presentation,” says Connolly. “While her images look simple, they are incredibly difficult to create.

“I look forward to meeting both of these artists in person, as they are superior contributors to the printmaking community,” says Connolly.

Story published on January 10, 2017