Joan Dix Blair
Burden of Nature, Habitat Two
etching with spit bite and drypoint printed on Okawara paper
12" x 72"
In an essay by John Ruskin he describes three types of poetic sensibility: to the first, a primrose is simple and unambiguously a primrose; to the second, it is not a primrose but something else - perhaps a forsaken maiden; to the third, it can contain many other meanings without ceasing to be entirely a primrose. I think of Durer’s etching of a primrose.
Printmaking is my exclusive medium. I live in a rural setting, surrounded by shifting weather, agriculture, wildlife. The concept of Place is real though not specifically rendered. I make abstractions, without a horizon line, usually in a square composition. However, a narrative impulse has emerged, and copying the Asian model, I make scrolls. I exhibit the square prints as groups. Ideally, the scrolls are presented in a box – as a rolled hand scroll or in separate sheets that can be installed in a horizontal line
Printmaking is a serial experience—in technical process and in product. My editions are small. I use traditional methods of etching on copper learned at Crown Point Press in San Francisco. I begin with sketches on tracing paper, or photographs I take with my phone. To make marks in a matrix is equally the discipline and the satisfaction. When I am able to collaborate with a master printer to work on larger scale, I can literally expand.
My woodcuts are also made in series and are intended to be painterly. Woodcuts offer me a simpler use of color because relief inks are opaque. My first feminist work is a recent woodcut scroll called “Penelope’s Girdle - based on two poems by women about Homer’s Odyssey.
When I feel a work is successful, it is “on its own,” and I hope a viewer will “tune in.”
I was born in New Castle, PA and graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder (B.A. English Literature). I’ve lived in New York City, in San Francisco (where I made my first etchings) and longest in rural western Massachusetts.
As a gardener I use an unconstructed style and many woodland plants. Travel to historic gardens is important to my work, and prints may be related to specific places. I am workshop-trained as a printmaker, by many excellent professors, artists and master printers
I’ve been a museum development administrator, a fundraiser for nonprofit organizations, a personal assistant to American kinetic sculptor George Rickey, and a I am a member of a cooperative gallery.
My professional affiliations include: California Society of Printmakers, Los Angles Printmakers Society, The Boston Printmakers, The Monotype Guild of New England, Mid-America Print Council. One of my Oak drypoints was selected for a 2-year travelling exhibit by the Southern Graphics Council, curated by Jane Hammond.
My book collection includes exhibit catalogs and monographs about women artists who are pivotal to my thinking, though they became icons in an earlier era. These include Helen Frankenthaler, Sonia Delaunay, Agnes Martin, Joan Mitchell, Louise Bourgeois, Jennifer Bartlett, Suzan Frecon, Helen Levitt, Betty Woodman.
This opportunity to exhibit with women printmakers is a gift and an honor.