A Study in Motion

Crossing, at Shift through Aug. 2

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Carmi Weingrod said her idea for building her Shift show around a 14-foot-long rubbing of a wooden bridge was simply wanting to see its “warped and weathered grain spread out along the wall.”

But as she came to the project after a career spanning printmaking, photo curating and research and writing about artists materials, the effort is so much more than that.

As a printmaker, she happened to have a roll of Chinese silk that she knew was soft enough to conform to the rough planks of the seasonal bridge in Cougar Mountain Regional Park that was her subject.

From eight years of research and writing editorial for Daniel Smith catalogs she deduced that sturdy and waxy graphite sticks would be the perfect tools for picking up the wood’s complex textures.

…overall she found that drawing in a lush ravine with birds chirping all around her and water pulsating underneath was meditative and fun.

And with the determination and methodical approach of a photo curator—a job she once held at the University of Oregon—Carmi withstood 4 ½ hours of uncomfortable positioning, a rain of caterpillars falling from trees and the interruptions of hikers to get the job done.

“It was eye-intensive work,” she said, adding that some of her moves to reach every spot were practically “acrobatic.” Yet overall she found that drawing in a lush ravine with birds chirping all around her and water pulsating underneath was meditative and fun.

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Still, her success was a close call.  “With about 18 inches to go, my solitude was shattered by two obstinate hikers and a dog who insisted on crossing the bridge,” she said.  “I finally convinced them to cross the creek via a safe, though muddy alternative route—leaving my rubbing free of boot and paw prints anyway.”

What does show up in the piece, enhancing its authenticity, is brownish evidence of damp spots in the wood and some caterpillar leavings.

Satisfied with her bridge experience, Carmi decided to take a break from her usual printmaking to concentrate on rubbing down old collograph and woodcut plates as well as found pieces of wood for the rest of her show.

The whole of the exhibit presents her recent experimentation with scale and surface.

“I wanted to make something really big and to try out some of the wispy, translucent papers and fabrics that come from Asia,” she said.

She used some of her favorite paper, Lamali, a handmade paper from Nepal, for her plate rubbings. “Although it looks fragile, this paper withstood many punishing layers of graphite and crayon rubbing and ink wash without piling or tearing,” she said.

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Carmi can describe her materials with authority.  In her research for Daniel Smith, she’d travelled widely to product manufacturing sites to better understand what they were selling and to accurately answer artists’ questions. Underpinning her work travel in enhancing her knowledge of art was the 18 months she spent circling the globe before moving to Washington from Oregon.

At that point she re-discovered printmaking through the use of modern, non-toxic methods and materials.  She had received a BFA in printmaking back “before the days of using gloves and vegetable oil for cleanup” but had to quit it because she’d developed a severe dermatitis to corrosive materials.

The whole of the exhibit presents her recent experimentation with scale and surface.

Now Carmi moves freely and knowledgably from one art project to the next and she’s all about motion.

“I’m a really active, outdoors person. I make most of my decisions when I’m moving,” she said.  “Perhaps that says more about my art and process than anything else, which is why I called this exhibit Crossing—the act of moving from one place to another.”