After an extended break from creating three-dimensional work, Kathleen Zimmerman just recently embarked on a public commission proposal titled Bear Hug, shown in a post on our Facebook page under Zimmerman Fine Art Studio. This venture back into sculpting drew her in and before she knew it she was creating new work in a couple series’ titled Mountain and Ark. The images above are of the clay original of Mountain Series - Dreamer and a plaster model of Ark Series - Horse. Horse is pictured here laying sideways and with a clay parting line so it is ready to begin the molding process.
As some of you know, Kathleen started her art career working at the bronze-casting foundry, Art Castings of Colorado. There, she learned all aspects of the ‘lost wax method of casting’ such as mold making, wax pouring, welding, chasing, etc. After this hands-on education, Kathleen began creating her own cast bronze sculptures, including a life-sized piece titled Melody, which was purchased by the Loveland High Plains Arts Council. It can be seen in the image in this post and in the renowned Benson Park Sculpture Garden as part of their permanent collection.
But life takes twists and turns, and just as Kathleen got started on a career as a sculptor, her family moved across the country from Colorado to Connecticut. This made casting bronze sculpture too costly and difficult for a young artist with a young family. So Kathleen pursued her other passion, which was drawing. Never one to do anything halfway, she applied to the Hartford Art School and was awarded full tuition on artistic merit scholarships and academic grants. At the University of Hartford’s Art School, she proceeded to earn her BFA, concentrating in both sculpture and printmaking. This gave her the time to continue to develop the visual language she had begun in her three-dimensional work and expand it into two dimensional work. A image of a drawing from this period titled WoMan Series - Wo is below.
After she graduated, she wanted the time to continue to develop her work without the pressures of the market. So she applied to the highly competitive intensive summer program called Alternative Route to Certification, which was run by the State of Connecticut’s Department of Education. She was accepted and completed this program in 1998. The Irving Robbins Middle School in Farmington, Connecticut promptly hired her as an art teacher. She thought this was what she would do for awhile but fate stepped in and she only taught for a couple of years. A pair of drawings titled Global Series - Bear Hugs were created during this time. Images of these drawings are shown below.
After a couple of years teaching, she was offered the opportunity to travel around the country making molds of monumental sculpture for other artists by Lands End Sculpture Center. This would allow her to both see what was being done by professional sculptors, and give her time in between jobs to work on her art. So she took advantage of this opportunity traveling and working for five years. While she mainly concentrated on her drawing during this period, she did create an occassional sculpture such as the plaster model titled Cosmic Cow imaged below.
Then again, fate jumped in and the opportunity to do an informal residency in China came about. Kathleen realized this kind of opportunity does not come around very often so she took a leap of faith and moved to Beijing. There she explored this very different culture, studied the language, met an international group of artists and created a body of graphite drawings. There is where she began creating digital prints from these drawings and to develop ideas for larger prints. It was an invaluable experience for her as an artist, but after five years, it was time to move back home to the states. A digital print from this period titled Cosmic Series -Light Dark is shown below.
So in 2012, she returned to Connecticut and began creating hand pulled prints from these graphite drawings. A professor from Hartford Art School suggested she try intaglio printmaking at Dog’s Eye Print Studio in Massachusetts. Always eager to learn new methods of printmaking, she took his advice but soon found she was not satisfied with the look she was getting. They were fine but they just did not fit with her vision. So she began researching other printmaking methods hoping to find one that produced the contemporary look and feel that she wanted. After doing this research, she came upon serigraphy. Serigraphy, also known as silk screening, screen printing or serigraph printing, is a stencil-based printing process in which ink is forced through a fine screen onto the paper beneath. Screens were originally made of silk, but they are now made of finely woven polyester or nylon. The concept of fine art printing has been popular since the 18th century, enabling artists to share their work with a broader range of admirers at a more accessible price. Since then, printmaking has evolved into another medium artists use to create artwork not just as a way to work in multiples. Silkscreen printing, also known as serigraph printing, is a medium that is increasingly valued for its versatility. It challenges the lithographic process in terms of the textural rendering of an image. I perfect example of this can be seen in Kathleen’s Inner Landscape serigraph shown below.
As luck would have it ZeaMays Printmaking, also in Massachusetts, was offering a month long workshop in this method. She signed up and was immediately taken by this method’s ability to retain areas of pure white paper, capture the tonality of her drawings and make it possible to place blocks of vibrant colors that ran right up and kissed the rendered image. Below is an example of this in one of her first serigraphs titled Blockhead Series - Otters.
Serigraphy was indeed the perfect match for her sensibility. It captured the essence of the drawings but also took them to another level. Now producing high quality works of art, she was ready to pursue a career as a professional artist. To ensure that her collectors would only receive the best possible prints, Kathleen began working with the master printers at Modern Multiples print studio in Los Angeles, California. A couple recent serigraphs titled Star Series - Evening and Morning are shown drying below.
Happy with the direction her two-dimensional work is going, she found she missed the feel of clay underneath her fingernails and plaster in her hair, ha-ha. Seriously, it was more that... she has some ideas that she felt could best be expressed three-dimensionally. Thus, she decided to work on these ideas first in a proposal called Bear Hug and then by creating new work in a couple series’, Mountains and Ark. Mountain fuses together the figure and mountain forms, in order to communicate that humans are not separate from nature but a part of nature. A work in progress titled Mountain Worshipper is shown below at Zimmerman Fine Art Studio.
The Ark Series plays off the idea of doubles, and the importance of all species, in which we share the planet. Below is the plaster model of Ark Horse.
This return to the three-dimensional world of sculpture does not mean she will cease to create new drawings and serigraphs. She will continue with two-dimensional work with just as much dedication if not more. You see each media helps her see life in a different way and fuels the creative process. They feed off of each other connecting these very different medias both visually and emotionally. So all this really means is that Kathleen two passions, sculpture and drawing, have come together as she enters into her professional stage as an artist.
Zimmerman Fine Art Studio