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Westwood 3

Westwood 5

Westwood 6

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by Kim Proukou ’06M

Department chair of art and art history Ann Conner employs two art forms expressed in wood: the woodcut – a relief against cuts that show as white against grain – and woodblock printing. Her favorite cuts are drawn with creative use of SpirographŽ toys. With plastic triangles, rule-shaped bars, knotty gears and toothed rings in hand, Conner traces fine-lined curves and inspired shapes. For large images, she devised an extension arm for the toy. When carving, Conner uses a high-speed Automach power chisel similar to a Dremel tool or laser to cut the block. “That doesn’t chew up the wood,� she says. “I try to disguise the cutting process so that it does not look handmade but carved as if by magic. The only clue I like to leave is the grain of wood.� Her six-block Brentwood series took more than a year to carve. Understanding the woodcut as a composite of design, color, technique and integrated textures, Conner considers the grain of the wood an essential graphic element. Similarly, she prefers Japanese papers for their variety of strength, texture and luminosity.

In addition to museums and arts exhibits, Conner’s work is also purchased for commercial dĂŠcor. Neiman Marcus, known for offering customers the finest designer choices, recently purchased eight woodcut prints for the entrance to their Atlanta store, and Fidelity Investments has purchased several sets. The Westwood Suite is a study in white-line woodcut. Conner carves thin lines within larger areas of original surface that when printed will show color. Editing can mean at times adding or subtracting lines to create a sense of movement against the inked grain. “Sometimes the grain came out a bit different than I expected. Actually, it becomes a happy accident,â€? she says. Conner’s use of fluorescents in the Westwood Suite is indicative of her signature: use of native woods, brilliant color, beautiful papers and expert mill cuts to create a novel integration of art and technique with whimsy in wood. ƒ

Conner’s work has been exhibited in national and international shows and collections. She has been listed in Who’s Who in American Art, Who’s Who of American Women, Who’s Who in the South and Southwest Silver 25th Edition as well as the 73rd Annual International Competition, Journal of the Print World.


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