I have always been concerned with the human figure as a subject. My photographs began as dreary and lovely, using friends as models or rather, place holders. I became less fascinated by the person and more by the form. Eventually, while studying overseas in Florence, Italy, I became less reliant on others to provide that shape and more interested in how to use my own body in my compositions. Thus began a long photographic journey in self-portraiture.
Previously, I had studied etching and book arts at a very casual level during undergrad— it seemed to be just an outlet for my frustrations, when a photographic project was still in its developmental stage. It was exciting to learn new techniques and to relate them to what I already know; I still believe that my initial draw to making etchings was because of the similarities in the richness of tone and value in between an etching and a photograph.
After graduation, while traveling, I found myself printing cyanotypes from my bedroom, until I became involved with the Community Darkroom at the Genesee Center for the Arts and Education. It was there that I began playing with my collected images from a year out of school. Eventually, I stumbled upon the Printing and Book Arts area, possibly during the phase where I was putting images in books— and inquired about the space. Being predominantly a letterpress shop, I spoke to Mitch Cohen at length about how how plausible and fruitful it would be to incorporate a greater variety of printmaking processes in our studio.
After establishing residency in the shop, and following Mitch’s lead (he’d acquired two etching presses that I currently use), I did my research. I visited other studios, both communal and private; worked alongside other printers, such as Bernice Cross, and began bringing in the materials to produce my own copper-etched plates at PABA. From my year as an artist in residence to today, we have been adjusting our studio to accommodate the ever-growing interest in creating etchings. It seems like our classes near-doubled in size since our very first etching class late 2014.
Working in a community space has been incredibly influential to my work. There is heart within the space and always another eye to offer feedback on something in the works. I often work with different types of artists, either visual or literary, on different book commissions. They provide the content and I build the book (sometimes, even incorporating my own imagery).
Community has become so important to me that I have developed a collaborative project, to extend the same experience to friends who do not have access to a community as vibrant that I take part in daily. (www.print-a-month.tumblr.com)
While I do tend to focus on using surreal imagery throughout each medium in my work, I find that my etchings tend to be more fairy-tale like. I often wake from a dream, with a feeling or a vision that influences the images that I print. Floating figures, abnormal interactions all come together by the enchanting effects of aquatint, soft ground, and some experimental processes. Currently, I am researching and playing with the ability to interchange photographic, printmaking and other processes to create one unified body of work.
Stop by Main Street Arts to see Rebecca’s prints in our current exhibition, Ink and Paper. The exhibition is up through Friday, March 25. Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by Rochester book artist Sue Huggins Leopard.