August Artist of the Month: Catherine Bodnyk

This August we’ve had the privilege of bringing to you the work of Catherine Bodnyk. We’ve enjoyed displaying a different medium, woodcutting & printmaking, than we’re used to seeing. In her artist’s statement posted at the shop here, she describes her process: “The struggles and compromises I go through with a wood block are a reflection of the way I relate to the people around me. My plywood is layered like a personality, and discoveries are made while I carve away. Layers of color build up, while I explore deeper. Out of mistakes arise interesting moments, and new understandings. And in the end, after all the cuts and concessions, I have something beautiful, yet flawed, but always solidly real.”

We asked Catherine if she’d be willing to share a little more about herself and her art and she graciously agreed to our monthly artist interview; we hope you enjoy!

Tell us about your background and how you got started in your medium.

I’m 24, and I was born and raised in the Harrisburg area. I recently graduated Summa Cum Laude from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania with a BFA in Printmaking, and I am currently in the process of relocating to Philadelphia.

I discovered printmaking while taking Sean Williams’ class at Harrisburg Area Community College in the spring of 2009. I instantly fell in love with everything about it. Printmaking requires a great deal of physical labor and technical knowledge. Rather than sitting in front of a painting for hours, agonizing over the next brush stroke, as I had been doing for years, I had to be up and about — turning presses, cutting wood, measuring acids. These breaks in the studio allowed the time I spent drawing and carving — the “artistic” decisions — to be focused, concentrated, fresh, and sharp.

I transferred to Edinboro University of PA in the fall of 2010 to study under John Lysak, who had taught my HACC instructor about ten years before. The team of printmaking professors there — including Bill Mathie and Franz Spohn — provided me with an ocean of knowledge and expertise to draw from. I spent most of my time in the studio, surrounded by presses, inks, and students, and for two years I lived printmaking.

Who has been your artistic inspirations?

My artistic inspirations come from all over. I was heavily influenced by the students at Edinboro, both from seeing how they created their work, and their varying responses to my own. I think my most successful work has been my portraits, and the work of Alice Neel has helped shape my approach to those pieces. In high school I always admired the work of Edouard Manet, specifically his simple, but beautifully painted still-lifes, which I would unsuccessfully attempt to imitate.

As I become more exposed to the current art world, I find inspiration everyday. The figure paintings of Nathan Oliveira are hypnotizing, and Peter Doig’s excellent use of color and shape is near perfect. In my current work, I’m drawing inspiration from my Ukrainian background, more specifically from Pysanky, or Ukrainian Easter Eggs, which I learned from my father, who was taught by his grandfather. When entering the world of patterns and symbols, inspiration is nearly endless, and almost constant, and I am excited to see where I go with it.

What is your favorite piece in your portfolio?

Ukranian SweaterMy favorite piece in my portfolio so far is also my most recent piece, Ukrainian Sweater, in which I have begun to experiment with both patterning and intaglio methods. Out of my woodcuts, This is Where and Troup are definitely crowd pleasers, and possibly my favorites. I like it all.

One artistic goal for 2012?

My artistic goal for 2012 is to find a way to use my art to help support myself and enable me to settle down somewhere to gain access to printmaking facilities — so I can continue to create and continue to learn.

Catherine’s work will be on display through the end of this week, August 31. Make sure to stop before Friday to take a look at her unique pieces in person! And if you can’t make it, you can find her online at CatherineBodnyk.com

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