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Through the press

Artist transcribes landscape experience through printmaking



For local artist and visiting Colorado College professor Jean Gumpper, woodcut printing isn't a far cry from responsible parenting.

"Often, the prints that are the biggest struggle become my favorite my prodigal child," jokes Gumpper.

With Gumpper's block printing technique repeatedly pressing absorbent paper over inked birch plywood the artist never quite knows exactly what she's going to yield until the end. "Each time I put down colors, it's a discovery," says the artist. "It's still a new process to me after 20 years."

Woodcut printing is very similar to rubber-stamping and linoleum printing, in that the areas carved out of the block don't print; the artist essentially must think backwards, or in "paper-negative," while working.

"I come with an idea of a place that I'm trying to evoke," explains Gumpper. "By carving each cut, I get back to the original experience and relive it in the studio. I try to create a sense of being in it. I use the landscapes as a metaphor for expressing other emotions and experiences."

Gumpper says that although she always begins her process with an elaborate plan in mind, that plan inevitably must be modified, due to variations in ink consistency and other factors. She likes that her pieces grow on their own, through the color transformation and wood translation. And she tirelessly nurtures them through any "awkward" stages.

"I haven't thrown one out in about four years," Gumpper says proudly.

In addition to her Colorado Springs exhibit, the artist also currently has work on display in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Belfast.


Woodcuts by Jean Gumpper

Rico's Caf & Wine Bar, 320 N. Tejon St.

Runs through September. Opening reception, June 4, 4-6 p.m.

Free; call 630-7723 for more information.

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