ARCATA ARTISANS

Elaine Benjamin

Creating art is usually a solitary endeavor, but here in Humboldt County, we find ways to support each other with joy and celebration.

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The Artist I majored in Printmaking at HSU, loved the bold lines and shapes of block prints. Discovered bookmaking and loved how it combined art and craft and text. I found that keeping to simple subjects enabled me to connect with more people, that universal themes resonated deeper than trendy ones and never got old. Books are more soulful, but cards reach so many more people, and book illustrations became card designs. Two years ago, Steven Vander Meer put a pyrography tool in my hand and told me to try it. I was hooked! At first the designs I burned into pieces of wood were the bold ones from block printing, and when I got more familiar with the fine wire-tipped "pen", I started to pay attention to the details: stripes on feathers on birds, the mottled coloration on a banana slug, the subtle shading on a mushroom. I love working with wood! It's fragrant when being cut or burned, and it doesn't need to be framed or have glass between to viewer and the art. And photos taken of the pyro pieces became cards.

I still can't help playing with paper, though, and two of my paper engineering designs became cards for the do-it-yourselfers. More on the way!

Being part of the Arcata Artisans - a cooperative - means we can change our style, experiment, try new things, be responsible for what is in our own space. It's a real freedom and I think that's what makes it such a dynamic gallery.

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