Artists Going Flat-Out

Question: What does a steam roller have in common with wood block printing?

Answer: Joyce Majiski and Linda Leon.

The two Yukon artists are hosting a spectacular event from August 5 to 7.

Each day between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. at the skating oval in Shipyards Park a road packer will be rolling over carefully prepared, over-sized wood cuts.

Participating artists will arrive on the scene with an image they carved onto a four-foot by four-foot wooden canvas.

Once the packer rolls over the paper and wood, an inked version of the design will be revealed, transferred from the wood block to the paper. The reveal will be the first time artists see the print. Master printmaker Joyce Majiski will oversee the process.

Wood block printing is an ancient technique that originated in China. The wood block is prepared as a relief pattern. Patterns are designed with a knife or a chisel; the cut-away parts show up as white on the prints, and the wood that isn’t cut shows up black.

Majiski first encountered  steamroller art Mazatlan, Mexico when a friend participated in an event there.

In 2013 Majiski brought the method to the Yukon and organized the first Steam Roller Print Project. If you search “Artist Under Pressure 2013” on You Tube you will see videos from the first print project, shot by Whitehorse artist Leslie Leong.

Since then, the steam roller print project has taken-off in Whitehorse. Linda Leon is organizing this year’s project. An impressive list of 15 artists will be participating.

Doug Smarch is one of them. He is a member of the Kookhitaan (Raven) Clan, of the Tlinglit Nation.

Smarch learned traditional stone, bone and wood carving with family and community members and has studied internationally to pursue his art. Presently residing in Teslin, his work is inspired by the land and his studies of other cultures.

As well as organizing, Leon will be a participating artist. Leon’s portfolio includes formal training in visual arts from the School of Fine Arts at the University of Manitoba. Leon is an artist, theatre designer, writer and activist.

Kathy Piwowar moved to Canada from Oklahoma over 40 years ago. She is a mixed media artist; her work is distinguished by texture, pattern and grids. She studied at the Alberta College of Art and Design and at Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver.

Jesse Devost, originally from Hornby Island, BC, has lived in Whitehorse since 1998. He has a degree and professional experience as a cartographer. However, his painting and photography work are his first love.

The steam roller print project is a collaborative event, perhaps complicated by the size of the work, but resulting in beautiful images nevertheless. The project is designed to expand people’s knowledge of printmaking. It will also expand the heavy equipment operator’s experience – much different than road construction!

Artists will keep their carved blocks of wood. Leon is approaching local business owners to see if any are interested in displaying the prints. Individual artists can be contacted directly should one wish to purchase a print.

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