Kari Kristensen cuts the Canadian landscape into linoleum, and it's a ton of precise work
Kristensen's geometric prints capture the emotional experience of growing up in the Canadian landscape
Kari Kristensen is an artist who makes prints with linoleum. What does that mean? She uses the material as her medium and carves tiny lines and dots into it to make her geometric prints.
In her current series, Chasing Shadow, she's re-imagining traditional ideas of what Canadian landscapes look like in art — with her own methodical twist. Using monochromatic linework, Kristensen turns the limitations that come with working with linoleum (it's not necessarily a forgiving material) into a challenge as she inscribes her emotional experience of the landscape into each print. She explains: "I'm very tied to my artwork because my artwork says something about my experiences of growing up in Ontario. And then you take me and you transplant me to Vancouver and it's still saying something about where I am. So my artwork depicts the place that I'm in but it's also reflecting the places that I have come from. It's about how I feel about the landscape, whether that is the way that the shadow falls across the face of a mountain cliff, for example, or the way that the rain is falling through the sky or the way that the mountains are reflected in the water. The way that it makes you feel when you look at it — that's what I'm trying to capture."
Watch the video:
In this video, you'll get to see inside Kristensen's studio, where she passionately carves lines and dots for days at a time. Then, she carefully rolls ink onto the linoleum to make her prints, and you'll see the whole process through — Kristensen uses the etching press to apply tons of pressure to the paper and the linoleum, sealing her print onto the paper. The result is one of her precise prints, and while it's so exact it might sometimes be mistaken for digital work, for Kristensen seeing the print for the first time is a very human and emotional moment.
And the process is only part of the artwork: every print is unique and only done in limited editions of two or three. Kristensen has also blown her work up to huge scale: you can see one of her massive murals on Granville Island in Vancouver, where she chose a view that was particuarly important to her — one from her hometown.