Investigating Artists

Judith Bowerman

Judith grew up in Michigan near Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River where she was first drawn to the quietude of water. After attending college near the dunes of Lake Michigan, she moved to Northern California for further training in painting and printmaking. The Pacific Ocean taught her about the absolute power and drama of water, and the coastal redwoods inspired her with a new sense of sublime scale. Longing to return to four distinct seasons, she moved to Western Massachusetts one snowy November and did not see green grass until after the mud season in early April the following year.

In the 34 years since, the perpetual yet unpredictable seasonal changes of New England have continued to captivate her. As an active artist and teacher, she raised three vibrant daughters in Springfield, MA, together with her husband and fellow artist Larry Slezak. The two of them recently moved to a farm in Cummington, MA, surrounded by gardens, pastures, woods, and streams. Judith works daily in her rural studio, where the view encompasses grazing sheep and a massive glacial rock.

Liz Chalfin

Liz is the founder and director of Zea Mays Printmaking.  She began her journey into safer printmaking as a teacher at Whittier College (California) in the early 1990s.  In 1997 she moved to Massachusetts and started a small studio for working artists interested in safer methods of making prints.  That modest endeavor has blossomed over the years into Zea Mays Printmaking, one of the country’s largest “green” printmaking studios and a resource for artists from all over the world.  Liz’s own artistic practice includes etching and photo-intaglio printmaking, works on paper and artist’s books.

Pamela Crawford

Working as a graphic designer for thirty years, I have spent countless hours manipulating letters and colors with a computer. Looking for a counterbalance to the preponderance of technology in my profession, and a means to coax creativity to return to my daily life, I began taking classes at Zea Mays Printmaking in 2008.

My study of printmaking began with monotypes. Inherent in this method is a spontaneity that allows for a candid visual expression of my current struggle or celebration. Within this framework, I am intrigued by certain realities of our daily existence: predatory and invasive behavior; biological patterns and structure; and human growth and disintegration.

Most recently, I have been exploring organic themes with intaglio printmaking by creating a variable edition of fifty prints made with four interchangeable copper plates.

Nancy Diessner

Nancy’s artwork emerges from her background in painting, printmaking, drawing, photography, and digital image manipulation. Incorporating all these media, her photopolymer intaglio prints explore the mysterious and complex connection between humans and animals, at the same time expressing our human longing for and isolation from the “other.” Dedicated to safer printmaking, she created two low-toxicity printmaking studios during her 17-year college teaching career, and now runs a public printmaking studio, Dog’s Eye Print Studio, in Framingham, MA, where she also makes photopolymer plates for artists.

Susan Jaworski-Stranc

I have been creating linoleum relief prints for over thirty years; untutored and self-educated.   Although I studied printmaking in art school with a concentration in intaglio techniques, I turned my attention to linoleum relief printmaking when I became pregnant and a mother for the first time.   I loved making prints but was well versed in printmaking’s’ toxicity.  I wanted to keep my hands ‘printmaker dirty’ but in a safe, responsible and healthy way both for myself and as well for my unborn and future family.

And so began my journey into relief printmaking, the oldest form of printing, with the purchase of woodblocks of mounted linoleum, tubes of water soluble inks, and a set of gouges.  Banished from my studio were VOCs, corrosive acids, & petroleum products.  I felt I had created a safe art environment for my creative endeavors and my children.

After many years working with the linoleum, I made a horrifying observation when leafing through an art supplies catalogue.  In parenthesis next to the item, ‘battleship grey linoleum’, read: (contains no asbestos). WHAT?!  I thought my substrate was innocuous, safe.  Was it toxic to my health?  Did I have a false sense of security when working with this material?

With some research, I learned true linoleum has no asbestos.  Battleship linoleum gets its name from the color of naval ships and it was just about the only sheet flooring available before the 60’s.

Plenty of products get used in situations they weren’t designed for.

Know your print substrate.  Do your research, ask questions.

Lynn Peterfreund

In the forty years I’ve worked as a printmaker, painter and art instructor, I’ve used a variety of materials and a variety of styles and subjects. The health aspects of using paints, inks and solvents have prompted many of the changes in media that I’ve made. Although I haven’t suffered specific consequences of the reckless albeit blissfully ignorant practices of art school studios, I made choices early on to get myself out of the toxic haze of free flowing solvents and into studios with controlled and increasingly healthy use of alternative materials. Being a part of a green studio allows me to return to intaglio printmaking in addition to doing monotype, a technique with fewer chemical processes.

Most of my work has been a response to the world I experience: nature and culture, people and animals. I work in series, often for two or three years, looking for variations in description and interpretation of my chosen subject. I worked for many years primarily from observation, doing still life, landscape, and portraits.

That vocabulary of forms has been my inspiration for a decade of more geometric, abstract work. In the last few years, I have combined what I love about working with color and composition with a return to using representational forms. My two recent print series are A Murder of Crows, and Eco.ominous, gestural monotypes suggesting colorful abstracted moody skies that portend the changes and obstacles of modern life on our planet.

Joyce Silverstone

Joyce Silverstone is an artist printmaker based in Massachusetts. She grew up in the Midwest, studying art in Cleveland and is a graduate and a traveling fellow of The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.  An active artist for more than 30 years, she exhibits her work nationally and internationally. Joyce is affiliated with Zea Mays Printmaking, artistic community/studio facility dedicated to teaching and practicing the use of environmentally safe materials, where she is an instructor and studio monitor. Her current work is represented in the studio’s Flat File Project, and at Printroom, London.

Her paintings and prints are held in private and corporate collections in New England, and in numerous permanent collections, including; Yale University Art Gallery, MIT Art Gallery, the Decordova Museum, the Hood Art Museum, and the Portland Museum of Art.