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PRINTS Richard Metz

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2015 Artist Statement - Prints - Richard Metz

       The inspiration for most of my work comes from wandering through the woods and meadows of Southeastern Pennsylvania. I have also been collecting and studying leaves and trees, and making paintings and woodcuts based on these outings. I have spent time identifying and gathering leaves, seed pods, plant roots and using these items both directly and pictorially in my work, and as a way to further my knowledge about the properties and balances of the ecosystems they inhabit. I have also created a body of work based on residences around north america that involves painting some of these images directly onto trees with natural pigments.

         My intention with these new prints is to create expressive and imaginative kinds of works that embody what I imagine might be the characters/spirits of the forests and fields of the that I have wandered through. I begin by using the leaf, bud or flower shapes of trees and shrubs, and allowing these shapes to suggest personalities that flowed with these designs. The resulting anthropomorphic images have exaggerated and suggestive emotional states. They are both familiar emotional portraits and humorous,strange new hybrid creations. My goal is to start with what is recognizable to humans: faces, and then transport the viewer to a more intense feeling of identification with nature.

         While these are obviously constructed images, I wanted a wild, untamed feeling to exude from the works. They are not like conventional nature works but more iconographic. The style comes from certain expressionist woodcut ideas, comic book designs, and the strange otherworldly shapes of the plants themselves. For me, these works express my connection with the natural world, and also pay homage to the works of the Iroquois mask makers who saw the spirits of the forest, Jean Dubuffet and his interest in the art of children and the insane, and Theodor Geisel, a master of hybrid creations. I am also very intrigued by the possibility of re-imagining the Enchanted Forest.

        As part of my environmentalist ideas, it is important to me that this work can be done without the reliance on advanced technology. I cut and print the wood and linocut blocks by hand, and make some of the watercolors from powdered pigments. This process allows me to have greater degree of control over the art and work more sustainably with nature.

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