This fall, Kevin Rudynski, professor of art at Anderson University, returns to the classroom with a new body of work to fuel his teaching and his studio practice. The work is a series of vibrant prints he calls Not Just Words, which he developed during his sabbatical last spring.
Each image in the series is a four-color, letterpress print made through an experimental exploration of text and imagery. The prints were created by layering the printing plates in various orders to achieve complex combinations of color and texture.
Not Just Words will be on display as part of the Faculty Exhibition from September 7 - 27 at the Wilson Galleries. Rudynski will be giving a lecture on his work at 4 p.m. on Saturday, September 7. The prints in the series were also featured this summer on the print blog For Print Only (FPO).
[Photo on left: Printing the cyan plate for Not Just Words #5.]
For Rudynski, the attraction to printmaking lies in the adventure of process, the rich relief surface of a print, and the anticipation that comes through relentless experimentation. In his artist statement he writes, “I love to make beautiful images that are amazingly crafted and complex in surface detail, texture, and tone. Printmaking processes help me achieve these qualities in my art.”
Rudynski can trace his interest in printed imagery all the way back to his early childhood. He remembers, “My grandfather was a printer and a Lintotype operator. He used to bring home large boxes of paper leftovers from completed print jobs. So, I always had this amazing supply of paper with all kinds of colors, coated and uncoated, and specialty finished papers. Using this paper to make art was my favorite pastime as a young child.”
When Rudynski sets out to make an image, he begins with an idea that’s been developing in his mind – often it’s a word or a phrase. He then sketches those ideas out, sometimes by hand, sometimes on the computer.
As for choosing a printmaking method, Rudynski does not claim favorites. Instead, he asks himself, “how will a particular print medium, or a combination of print media, contribute to the ideas I am exploring in my work?”
In any form of printmaking, understanding the process is helpful for understanding the print itself — the process is where the magic happens. For Not Just Words, the magic was in experimentation. As Rudynski developed the prints, he spent countless hours experimenting with colors, plate printing order, and types of paper. He explains, “In printmaking, I think it is easy to skip the experimentation and only execute your original plan and pursue the outcome you first imagined. But through the exploration comes ideas not considered, unexpected results (accidental and planned), and a more sensitive understanding of the printmaking medium.” He continues, “It is challenging to come to the press as a blank slate and discover what you’re capable of doing at that time. I think that requires a lot of faith and confidence in yourself.”
More than anything else, Rudynski’s work is motivated by his family. He shares “I am most inspired by my wife, children and parents. I’ve experienced their unselfish love, and that is a gift that motivates me to become the best person I can become. As a visual artist, that means honoring their care for me by being a good steward of the gifts and opportunities God has blessed me.”
In the past, Rudynski often employed imagery from nature as a vehicle to explore his ideas. Natural forms served as metaphors for human experiences like marriage, spiritual transformation, and conflict. However, his recent work shows a shift in imagery — pictures of his daughter appear, overlapped by text, treated with a wide range of vivid colors.
Reflecting on their conceptual content, he says, “Lately, the ideas explored through my work come from the challenges of everyday life. Making my work is a way of thinking through, understanding, and communicating about the issues which have made my life challenging – but when reflected upon through my work, more meaningful to me – and perhaps to others.”
Rudynski also alludes to their significance as broadsides — posters printed on one side only, which were historically used as public announcements. He explains, “I think of the statements in the Not Just Words series as proclamations – once decoded by the viewer.”
What’s next for Not Just Words? Rudynski has three more prints in mind for the series, one which is already underway. When he has completed all nine prints, he has another project in mind of creating a handbound, limited-edition book based upon the themes explored in the Not Just Words print series.
Looking towards this new semester, Professor Rudynski has his mind on his teaching. ”My sabbatical work has prepared me to offer more about letterpress and screenprinting in my courses. I hope that the investigation of important personal themes in my work finds its way into the classroom [as I assist] students with their search and exploration of important personal themes in their own work.”
To see more of Kevin Rudysnki’s work, visit his website
About the Department of Art+Design
The Department of Art+Design at Anderson University offers majors in the areas of fine arts studio, visual communications design, and visual arts education. Students gain experience through intensive studio practice, professional internships, and by working closely with a faculty of professional artists and designers.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of about 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.