“Getting my art on . . .” That’s what one visitor said she liked to do when she comes to American Art’s Luce Foundation Center. On Sunday, January 29, she was in the right place. Local artist Kristina Bilonick shared her work as part of the Luce Center’s ongoing Luce Local Artist Series. She also did something a little unexpected. Bilonick led a hands-on screen printing demo and visitors printed their own tote bag featuring a pixilated version of the museum’s beloved Black Hawk Horse Weathervane Pattern.
Bilonick began by talking about her interest in folk art and how she likes its edge, use of everyday materials, and sense of storytelling. She mentioned a lot of different artists on view in the Luce Center and noted that Howard Finster was one of her favorite folk artists. She told visitors that she focused more on the design and lettering when looking at Finster’s piece ST. LUKE 5-20 AND WHEN HE SAW THEIR FAITH. HE SAID UNTO HIM. MAN THY SINS ARE FORGIVEN THEE than on what it actually said. It’s amazing the number of things one can focus on when they look at a piece of art.
Throughout the talk, Bilonick made connections back to her own work. She told visitors how she recreated her grandmother’s kitchen from memory using everyday objects, much like folk artists. She quoted artist Jimmy Lee Sudduth about his aspiration to be famous: “I’m gonna be fay-mous, fay-mous! I didn’t learn much in school–Just learned to write my name–Jim. But I believe I’d rather be famous, than rich or smart.” She said he captured her childhood enthusiasm about fame. She showed images from a series, Feeling Famous, in which Bilonick inserted an image of herself as a young girl into examples of pop culture. Much of her work is inspired by memories of her family and childhood, and often include a hint of humor.
Her humor was especially evident during her quick and dirty guide to silkscreening, or a “cooking class version” as Bilonick described it. She hammered together a screen, stretched fabric, pretended to apply the emulsion (a neon green substance that made me think of Slimer from The Ghostbusters), described how to transfer an image, until . . . a screen appeared ready to print! Bilonick helped visitors with the printing process, instructing them how to hold the squeegee (at an angle) and checking to make sure there was enough ink on the screen. A few visitors even wandered up after the talk and tried their hand printing a tote. And everyone was successful, even me!
Do you like getting your art on? If so, the museum has a lot of art making opportunities coming up. Tuesday, February 14, the Renwick will be hosting Handi-Hour. And the Luce Center also hosts a weekly Draw & Discover program on Tuesdays. Keep an eye on our calendar or sign up for our e-mail alerts, for more demos to come!