Lise Drost -- Career Summary
Artist statement March 2016
Drawing and painting were my first interests for art-making until I was introduced to printmaking: I was intrigued by all of the image making possibilities that the different processes could provide; I had already decided that working on paper was more attractive to me than working on canvas, and print processes became another means for getting images onto paper. I work with both mixed media one of a kind pieces and editions of multiple prints. Making multiples gives me the opportunity to have a certain amount of trial and error with an image, especially since I utilize a lot of different printed layers: it is freeing to know I have a stack of a work in progress and can try out a few different things before committing to a final result. I most always make some of my plates and screens and print the whole edition stack one color at a time rather than make all the plates and screens, proof and reproof them, and then pull the edition. Part of this is because I do a lot of reduction printing with screens and plates, making it impossible to go back and start over; the other reason is that I find working this way to be stimulating and direct. My exception to this practice would be when working on a multiple plate intaglio and/or relief print: but I don’t do much of either anymore. Working with printmaking processes also allows me to combine printed layers from completely different projects to start new one of a kind pieces that need drawing, painting and collage to complete.
My work combines various means of depicting different places through the use of color, textures, drawings, maps, and photographs; the goal is to create pieces that are visually intriguing, thought provoking, and leave room for the viewer’s own interpretations. My imagery draws from the South Florida environment as well as everyday objects from my home and studio. While they might be seen as a puzzle to figure out, there is no correct interpretation. I choose the elements and set the stage to offer a visual aesthetic experience.
In graduate school I began combining lithography with relief printed collographs, as well as utilizing stencils, spray paint, hand coloring and collage. I was looking at graffiti, fragmented text, and torn papers: perhaps influenced by the Midwest, my palette was much more subdued than its been since returning to South Florida. There were references to doors, windows and landscape elements in the work. The torn paper shapes gradually morphed into map forms, later into the use of actual maps. Over the next few years, I incorporated more direct references to recognizable imagery. It was not until I moved back to Miami in 1987 that I learned silkscreen: I was looking for a new process to try while I saved the money to buy my own press. The process of silkscreen was certainly not difficult to grasp but figuring out how to use it to build my images required a change in my thinking, coming from a litho and etching background. Some of my initial screenprints were mostly grounds for drawings, paintings and collages. Once I had my press and shop set up (in 1990), silkscreen gave me something my work in graduate school was missing, and that was the ability to add in light, opaque layers in the printing process when needed. I wanted to build up fields of dark drawings and textures and then edit that by overprinting pale colors.
The works leading up to my 1996 Pathway edition (initially shown at Lowe Art Museum in 1996) were visually complicated pieces, with the intent of fusing layers of imagery together; at the time I was working to reproduce the jumble of images in my head. As I moved forward with the next body of work, my intent was to make the layers much more distinct from each other and to simplify both the layering and the compositions.
My personal practice with silkscreen had started with screen filler stencils: I did not mind the meticulous nature of this process as it produced reliable results. I never thought much about photo silkscreen until I was learning Photoshop (initially to correct digital reproductions of my images) and realized the possibilities of utilizing the layers palette to build an image and then generate positives to make the different screens: the ability to preview the color combinations before ever making the screens was quite valuable. I also began printing digital collage pieces of the maps and photographic elements for my unique pieces, utilizing UV sprays and over printing with screen inks to assist in making them more color-fast. I have made some prints that are completely digital but I find that these work best on a small scale since they don’t have any real surface to them; on my larger prints I have always found it necessary to use a relief printed, embossed or collaged element to activate the surface. I am currently working on a series of editioned prints that combines silkscreen with digital printing, starting the works with one digitally printed layer, which is taking the place of some of my earlier use of litho or relief printed elements.
Lise Drost -- Career Summary -- March 2016
I grew up in Miami, and attended Miami Dade Junior College and then Florida International University. My interest was in drawing and painting but when I was introduced to printmaking I became instantly intrigued by the possible range of image making techniques. By my junior year I started entering print competitions on the national level and was showing work at Miami’s Barbara Gillman Gallery.
For graduate school, I received a one-year fellowship to attend Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville in 1980 and then assistantships for my last two years, serving as the printshop assistant and also as research assistant to my major professor, Robert Malone. In researching schools, I looked for one where I could learn more printmaking processes but also be encouraged to continue to experiment with drawing, painting and collage, and I found Malone to be an excellent mentor for me in this regard, as he was a very active painter, printmaker, and collage artist (and later a sculptor). I primarily worked with combinations of lithography and relief printed collographs on a scale up to 40 x 60 inches. As Malone’s research assistant, I printed and documented his editions, and also worked as the printer for visiting artists. The Nelson Wagner Lithography Workshop at SIUE had recently closed but we continued in a small way by bringing a couple visiting artists in each year.
After graduate school I held three artist in residence positions where I continued my work and also began teaching. The first was at Millersville University of Pennsylvania where I worked with lithographer Robert A. Nelson whose strict approach to the medium further resolved my determination to be experimental. The next position was at the Oregon School (now College) of Arts and Crafts in Portland where printmaking was part of the Book Arts division so I learned about letterpress and worked with a local writer on a complex book project comprised of collaged intaglio prints and laser printed text. I was invited to stay a second and third year as an instructor; I taught courses in intaglio/relief, monoprint and plate lithography and worked on paintings and low relief painting/sculpture combinations. In 1985 I had a solo exhibition at Northwest Artists Workshop in Portland: Living Spaces was my most ambitious project to date, as I made life sized versions of my images of interiors, complete with painted furniture and my own artificial plants. All faculty were part time at OSAC as the administration wanted working artists and craftsmen: I needed to supplement my income there so I worked part time on the staff, sitting the front desk and filling in for others on their vacations (everything from the curriculum director’s assistant to groundskeeper); I was also elected the faculty representative to the board. Attending staff, faculty and board meetings was extremely educational as each group had very different concerns and priorities when it came to running the school. I took a short leave from OSAC for a two month residency in Ucross, Wyoming, where I worked on a series of large monoprints; my dealer in Chicago was later able to place these in quite a few collections; I was with Miriam Perlman for about twenty years until she closed. The solitude of Wyoming helped me clarify my thoughts on where my career was going and I realized that I needed to set up my own print studio as every place I had worked had put a different set of limitations on my work. So I made the decision to move back to South Florida to set up my own print studio rather than have the job search process determine my future location.
When I came back to Miami in 1987 I set myself the goal of learning silkscreen, a media I had only attempted once in highschool, as something I could try until I could afford my press. It was a challenge at first to adapt my approach to planning multi-color works. At this time I also took the opportunity to expand a 35 page handout made in Portland for my litho class into the Lab Manual of Aluminum Plate Lithography a 100 page text which I self published and marketed directly to printmaking programs, finding there was good interest in the book and its practical approach. By 1989 I was teaching part time at FIU so I expanded this text to include information on stone lithography. In this same time frame I went to work with commercial office printers and wound up full time as a manager for Pandick Technologies (later bought by Pitney Bowes Management Services). The combination of these positions and activities allowed me to save the money I needed to purchase a home and a press in 1990.
I bought the house in May, installed the press in August and the same week I was offered a full time teaching position at the New World School of the Arts to work in their newly established College program: they were a highschool magnet program affiliated with Dade County Public Schools, Miami Dade Community College, and Florida International (who encouraged them to hire me). The College program was struggling to find its identity and after two years, two of us were laid off when they decided they needed more faculty working in graphic design and (what was then called) computer art. Fortunately, FIU hired me back part time again.
It was an unsettled time but a very productive period for me in the studio: in 1992 I had a solo exhibition at the Bird in Hand Gallery and Bookstore in Washington D.C. which I shipped out just days before Hurricane Andrew. I had a very good relationship with this gallery with more solo and group shows over several years before they closed. In1993-94 I won a Florida Individual Artist Grant, so financially I was squeaking by. The next year, the University of Miami had an opening in printmaking and I started teaching first part time, then as a lecturer the next year, and tenure track the next.
I started to expand my 60 x 40 inch prints into diptychs and triptychs and I was pleased to be able to first show these at the Big Prints invitational at the University of Dallas in 1993 and in the Florida Fellowships exhibitions and then in a solo exhibition at UM’s New Gallery. Once I became tenure track, UM invited me to be part of a 3 person New Faculty exhibition at the Lowe Art Museum on campus in 1996 so after viewing the space with my colleagues, I made plans to print an edition of a work that would be made of six 60 x 40 inch printed sheets, to make a 5 by 20 foot print. Pathway was well received in that show and was also exhibited at the Minnesota National Print Biennial and the National Works on Paper Invitational in Hilo, Hawaii.
I became active as a visiting artist, making editions at the Brandywine Workshop in Philadelphia, the University of Dallas, and the Ringling School of Art and Design; I taught workshops at Frogman’s at the University of South Dakota and returned twice to SIUE for summer workshops. The print I made at Brandywine was my first attempt at drawing color separations on grained mylars and transferring those drawings to light sensitive lithography plates: SIUE was doing a great deal of work with their students with this process as well. We purchased a NuArc exposure system for UM in order to bring us this process, at first with hand drawn mylars and low tech photo copy machine positives and then later with digital output from larger format inkjet printers.
Print exchanges were an important part of my efforts to get my work out nationally. I also instituted doing an exchange every semester with the students at UM, a tradition that has continued every year since 1993, including some exchanges with other schools both in the states and abroad. I was accepted for a juried exchange through Frogman’s called Alternative Processes in 1994 and participated in three other exchanges with them over the next few years; I was invited in 1997 to represent the state of Florida for Lynwood Kreneck’s ambitious ColorPrint USA project that asked participants (one from each state) to make an edition of 50+ prints and to commit to finding a venue for the show in state in early November so that there would be fifty simultaneous openings. In 1998 I became Vice President of Florida Printmakers and became responsible for editing the newsletter (then a print publication), and designing catalogs for the annual competition; later I became President and also designed and maintained the website.
I also started attending Southern Graphics and Mid America Print Council conferences, with some invites to present. At the 1997 Tampa SGC conference members meeting, the idea of a Miami conference came up and the process began for UM to host in 2000: the responsibility of planning the first conference of the new millennium was not lost on us and we knew it had to somehow involve new technology, which was having an impact on printmaking departments and print artists everywhere. We worked off of Apple’s then-current “Think Different” ad campaign to come up with Ink Different: Tradition and New Technology. I have included the conference packet in my support materials to show how we covered the widest possible range of media available at the time in our demonstrations, panels and exhibitions. With 90 presenters and more than 700 attendees, I believe it was an extremely successful event that gave our department very favorable exposure. That same year, I was pleased to be represented in Robert Malone’s Contemporary American Printmaking book: he only selected a few of his former students for it.
In the Fall of 2000, just as my portfolio was submitted for tenure, my colleagues and I were summonsed to a meeting and informed that we had to vacate our Main Art Building because it was considered too unsafe to occupy: it was a wooden two story building constructed in 1946 as a temporary Administraton Building, later gifted to the Art department as more permanent buildings were completed on campus. Unfortunately, because of the suddenness of the decision, the short term resolution was to seek out different new locations for each of our areas: For drawing and printmaking, I suggested the Rainbow Building, across campus, where we had long occupied some space in the upstairs for faculty studios. I had noted that most of the rest of the building was contract services to the University, or University records storage, all of which, with time, could be relocated. The idea received the administration’s support and become a reality. I was the faculty advisor on renovating the downstairs for a drawing classroom and a quite functional printmaking studio. I had proposed renovating the upstairs for painting but the proposal was not funded at this time; unfortunately, four years later the Coral Gables Fire Marshal red-tagged the upstairs for numerous code violations and I was once again assigned to the project as well as working with Facilities to bring three of our other buildings up to safety and ADA code compliance.
Life post-tenure became an active time for my own work: I had been given one of the Rainbow studios in 1998 and was able to work there on unique pieces while continuing to print at home, so this increased my productivity quite a bit. I had a solo show at the Lowe in the Fall of 2000: I had made seven large one of a kind works on paper to match the scale of the space, along with a series of seven 60 x 40 editioned pieces. This was followed closely by a solo show at the Polk Museum in 2001 and then another solo show at the Deland Museum in 2004. Each show involved a new body of work and was documented with a full color catalog.
I took a full year sabbatical in 2002-03 and finished my Revised Lithography Lab Manual text: it expanded on the prior text to add photo processes and many pages of illustrations, including four pages in color. I continued to self publish it but now marketed it through the printmaking material companies rather than selling it directly to individuals. I made ten editions of new prints on a modest 26 x 20 inch scale, which also led to more than 20 unique pieces: I sent these out to numerous calls and lined up a number of solo exhibitions over the next few years.
When I came back from sabbatical, I was made Graduate Director and given the responsibility of writing the SACS program assessment reports for the Studio BA, BFA and MFA programs, as well as all the above mentioned building projects. The new upstairs of Rainbow contained improved faculty studios and a new 2D Design classroom, with wide hallways that serve as an excellent gallery/critique space with track lighting.
Our department chair became an endowed chair in 2005, and in 2005-06 we were assigned an interim chair from outside the department; I threw my hat in the ring to be the next chair and served from 2006 to 2014. My greatest accomplishment as chair was to get the studio areas of the department into renovated facilities on the same part of campus, a first in the department’s history: this was a multi-year process. In 2011 we finally moved Painting, Sculpture, Ceramics and Glass into a renovated space just across the street from the Rainbow Building: we were able to purchase all new kilns and furnaces for Ceramics and Glass and added a good bit of new equipment for Sculpture as well. In 2014 we secured additional space in the building to move Photography and Graphics, too. The wooden buildings in our other locations on campus were finally closed and demolished but the old Main Art Building (the original Administration Building), now considered historic, was handsomely renovated for other units of the College of Arts and Sciences (it was a terrific building but not terribly well suited for art studios).
During my time as chair, we also made a lot of big changes in the functionality of the department office, our admissions procedures, BA and BFA requirements, and added department staff positions. We raised the stipends for the MFA students. We had a successful Graduate Program Review completed in 2012-13. I was pleased to supervise searches that led to five tenure track hires and numerous full time lecturer hires. Another important accomplishment was establishing a department gallery year round in the Wynwood Art District, just north of downtown Miami, an area that started prospering around the time that Art Basel came to Miami: as grad director I had assisted the students with obtaining a short term rental in the Design District during Basel where hundreds of people came through and saw their work, but I envisioned our having a presence there year round. Our first location in 2006 was an 11,000 square foot space in a gallery that had gone out of business: we were able to show 60 faculty, students and alums during the December and January art fairs, and then I brought in the Medical School (which was looking for storage space near their campus) to share the lease for the remainder of the year giving us a 3000 square foot space. This space served very well for our MFA students, who were able to have solo MFA shows in the space that were up for most of each month: our previous system had them showing in the College Gallery, on campus, in the summer, with the exhibits only being a week in duration. Needless to say the graduate students stepped up their interest in their MFA shows which led to many of them getting gallery representation afterwards in the area. In 2012 we were able to get a much more polished space in the Wynwood Building, attractive because it houses other galleries and art related businesses, has its own parking, security guards, and a restaurant.
As a direct result of our gallery presence in Wynwood, the department was invited to participate in area Art Fairs – we received free booths of varying sizes in Art Miami, the Miami International Art Fair, Art Palm Beach, and Downtown Miami’s SeaFair. One year we received a booth at a discounted price at Red Dot Fair in New York.
During my time as chair I stayed very active with print exchanges (with some international venues), and continuing the Drawing Series, sometimes utilizing trial proofs from older works that I had been saving. I also began to investigate making purely digital prints, some of which were included in the Polk Museum’s Digital Art in the Post Digital Age exhibition (2008). My goal was to make the digital work similar to my prints but incorporating some of the rendering style of my drawings. I was part of the Contemporary American Serigraphy traveling exhibition, and in 2007 I was the cover article for the American Print Alliance’s Journal, Contemporary Impressions. I was pleased to again be asked to represent the state of Florida in Melanie Yazzie’s 50 Places print exchange project, and to be included in Print Zero’s publication highlighting contributors to their exchanges over the years. I was honored to be involved in the One World project, an international traveling show of prints that had several venues here in the States and other venues in Canada, Korea and China. In 2012 I began a new body of work for my Lowe Art Museum exhibition in 2014 for which I was able to return to some large scale triptychs on paper. Many of the pieces for this show were begun by digitally printing collages made in Photoshop of maps, photographs, patterns and textures, which I reworked with colored pencils and through painting with screen inks.
After eight years as chair, I asked to step down and I was grateful to be given a year long research leave: one of my first priorities was to again apply for University Research Funding and I received a grant to explore combinations of digital printing with traditional printing to make edtiions, rather than one of a kind collages.
In 2014 and 2015 I was juried into memberships with the Los Angeles Printmaking Society, Print Arts Northwest in Portland, OR and the Washington Printmakers Gallery in D.C. The latter two organizations have galleries where I have prints on file for viewing year round. I have renewed my participation in Boston Printmakers and the Society of American Graphic Artists in New York. I have been a member of both for years but was not always able to participate in their annual member exhibitions or other activities.
During my research leave in AY 2015, I had a productive year in the studio, completing 18 new editions of prints and 20 collages completed over the next year. This was the bulk of the work in my next solo exhibition in January 2016 at 621 Gallery in Tallahassee; this show was accompanied by a color catalog.