Nanette Wylde
O Humboldt, O Muir: Worldviews

O Humboldt, O Muir: Worldviews is a series of 33 unique monoprints. These images are based on my photographs of severed tree trunks. While making them I was thinking of these individual trees as microsystems, or complete worlds unto themselves, and how they may have interacted with other trees and lifeforms to create a universe of treeness. I was also thinking about Alexander von Humboldt's explorations and mapping of eco systems across our planet, and John Muir's activism to keep wild places safe from destructive human practices. Peter Wohlleben's The Hidden Life of Trees has informed my understanding of trees and the worlds that they are.

Specifications
Cut stencil monoprints
Oil based ink on Rives BFK
Paper size 11" x 15"




Below: The series of 33 prints.

Process
For some time I have been photographing severed tree trunks discovered while hiking. I used these photos as the basis for hand cut stencils in a monotype process.

Oil-based ink is rolled onto a plexiglas sheet. A paper stencil is placed on top of the plexi. Dampened Rives BFK printmaking paper is then laid onto the stencil. Or sometimes I do it in reverse placing the stencil on the print and then the inked plexiglas on top of the stencil with the ink side down. I then flip this print sandwich so that the printing paper is on top. When ready I crank the handle of the press so that pressure is evenly applied to the entire surface of the printing paper, transfering the ink from the plexi through the stencil to the paper. I then remove the printed paper from the press and hang it to dry. Oftentimes I will run a second paper through the press which creates a ghost image, or I will remove the stencil from the inked plexiglas and print what ink remains on the plexi.

It takes multiple layers of this process to create each print, and I cannot tell with any precision how each layer will work with the previous layers before I print it. Should visual cohesion in a print become lost, I must figure out how to bring the image back via this same process. This is a large aspect of the pleasure I experience in printing this way--the challenge of resolving an image.

After each round of printing, I hang the prints on the studio wall to look and consider what might come next. Many elements are planned to work together, and just as many happen via the process. I continued to make new stencils as this series developed.

Acknowledgement
This work was created with the generous support of the Palo Alto Art Center and Applied Materials. The prints were created in July 2019 at the Art Center where I was awarded a printmaking residency in the Center's Glass Gallery.

The Glass Gallery is so called because it has several large glass windows which allow viewing into the gallery. I kept the door open and throughout the nine day residency Art Center visitors came in to chat and experience the print studio. They often offered up tree stories and we marveled together.

Contact Nanette at nwylde at preneo dot org