Featured Artist: Noah Matteucci
Today we welcome artist Noah Matteucci to our blog. I met Noah at a gallery opening for Arts of Clark County a year ago. We had an instant connection through our passion for block printing. Noah has created a very interesting process for his work that I know you will enjoy. He shares his workspace as well as his humor and fabulous writing style!
It’s weird to fall in love with something I didn’t know existed until I was nineteen, but that’s what happened in 2005, when I took my first printmaking class. It was at UC Santa Cruz on a forested hill that overlooked the Pacific Ocean. Looking back I don’t know why I loved printmaking, it may have something to do with the beautiful location, the inspiring teachers, my youthful susceptibility, the pot smoke they pumped into the air vents, or maybe, all of it combined. Up on that hill I levigated limestone, carved wood, dipped metal into acid, and cranked presses until my hands fell off. Pulling a print was magical. I felt like I was a member of some secret society. Oh I know what your thinking, but it definitely wasn’t a cult. It says so in the pamphlet I have. Do you want one? I can bring one over to your house. How about today? Great! I’m on my way now.
After a brief detour for grad school and a university lecturer job in a rainy valley in Honolulu, I came back to the mainland to settle down in Vancouver, Washington with my best friend and partner, Molly. We bought a dog, named him Oliver, and I carved out a small print studio in the bowels of our house. It’s a large, open space that many would describe as a basement. It’s replete with regenerating cobwebs, the faint aroma of something that resembles mildew, and stairs that Oliver refuses to descend. The main water source is a hose I “installed” in the open back window, and the large wooden beams that span the ceiling align with the growing dent in my forehead. It’s perfect.
My work is largely process driven, which means I don’t know how to draw. I like to use simple shapes, loop them repeatedly, and subject them to the laws of chance. I’m currently working on a series of screen prints generated by accident. It started one day when I was making a four-color separation in photoshop. For some reason my image became corrupted and glitched, filling the screen with random noise and pixels. I was shocked, mainly because I realized this new image was more visually interesting than the original. After many attempts, I figured out how to replicate this process, and began a series of glitch prints that effectively documents these accidental anomalies.
I am addicted to pixels. In grad school, I covered a room with over 40,000 screen printed squares in different shades of gray. Each square was placed at random, which made the space feel like you were stepping into the snowy static of a television screen. In my studio, I’m repeating the pixelation process but on a smaller scale and with woodblocks. I took a sheet of plywood and cut it into half inch squares so they fit a fluorescent lighting grid found at Home Depot. After a few hours of placing squares into the grid the blocks are ready for printing. I roll oil-based ink onto their surface using a brayer and place printmaking paper on top of the inked blocks. An impression is made by applying pressure with a baren or a wooden spoon. This process is repeated to make a multilayered print, adding or removing squares and changing color in between layers. Right now I’m making large prints of sky gradations based on colors sampled from photographs.
A lot of my process is repetitive, bordering on insane, so I constantly drink black tea and listen to podcasts and music to keep me going. I down episodes of Radiolab and This American Life as fast as my cups of english breakfast, but my current favorite podcast is the Daily, from the New York Times. The host, Michael Barbaro, helps me get up to speed with what’s happening in the world. After I listen to the Daily, I silently cry for an hour and then I turn on some music: usually Sufjan Stevens, Phillip Glass, or Brian Eno. Most days I’ll play Eno’s Another Green World on repeat and slowly sink into the void.