The main thrust of my work focuses on a combination of current events, including contemporary moral views, with more personal and intimate imagery. I particularly like combining modern concepts with nostalgic forms. This is a constant thread running through a variety of ideas and images represented in my work. As in a quilt or a billboard, I piece papers or linoleum blocks to make a whole. I focus on seams, and the surprises that happen there – loss of ink, torn edges, overlapping sheets, signs of wear, and uneven printing textures – my work is not about the perfect flawless print. I want each print to be unique. I’m engaged by the letterpress process, and early binding structures. The one of a kind characteristics of incunabula; often stained, warped, with faulty registration and sewn repairs, are what I strive to emulate in the artist books I build.
From 2003 to 2006 I went to graduate school at Columbia College’s Center for Book and Paper Arts, where I had an intense period of making art. Following this I began working for the Art Institute of Chicago as a Conservation Technician in the Department of Prints and Drawings. I have worked with the collection of over 100,000 works on paper, preparing and framing for exhibitions, loans and acquisitions. A great variety and number of works of art have passed through my hands between 2006 and now, and I have developed a visual acuity that would be hard to gain in any other way. I have formed strong critical opinions, and taken the time to absorb my education and re-think my artistic direction. I have experienced slow periods of making art a few times in my life – when this happens and I’m not producing finished works, I am always thinking about making art. When I begin to work again, I have grown through this thought process, and my work usually changes. Graduate school and working with a collection of masterful artworks has had an impact on the artwork I create.
Although I identify most strongly as a printmaker and bookbinder, my art practice has expanded over the last few years to include making drawings and pottery. I have returned to a favorite theme of drawing animals on paper and clay to regain the immediacy of making marks and honing my craft. I decided to make what I desire in the moment, without concern for a deeper meaning or concept. However this drawing practice, and combination of art and craft, has led me back to a place of creativity, engagement and once again, my voice.
Shop Evanston Made: Mardy Sears