Monday, February 16, 2009

7 questions - interview with audra knutson

marid, 12x36

About this time last year I started searching for a piece of art. I'm talking a bonafide piece. Something that would begin a collection, something that told a story. Since this was my first official purchase, if you don't count music posters and anything under $25, I wanted it to be just right. Did I mention it was a gift for my husband on our first anniversary?

In my research I came across Audra Knutson. She showed about two years ago at one of my favorite galleries in Denver. I missed the show but Space Gallery happened to have a few of her pieces left and was willing to let me peruse. In her series, Audra created linocuts at a very large scale. Just so you know I have this thing for line work. I don't know if it's the influence of design school, the years of working for architects or the fact that I love detail. Either way, she had exactly what I love. When I saw her work in person, it was that much more perfect. So, when I decided to incorporate artist interviews, it seemed fitting that my first official art purchase would become my first official interview with an artist.

the loss

of fear

1 Where are you living these days? I lived in Brooklyn after college and then moved to Chicago for a short stint. While in Chicago, I visited San Francisco and fell in love with the city. So I moved back to Denver to save money and plan a way to get to San Francisco.

2 Why linocuts? My dad is a carpenter by trade. So the tools he used always intrigued me. I like the tactile process and the work involved in creating a linocut. When living in NY and working at a record store a friend game me tiny lino blocks. She just handed them to me and said, I think you'll like this. Later my roommate, who is a painter and sculpture, gave me a book on printmaking. It evolved from there. I went from doing 2"x2" blocks to 4"x4" blocks. Because space in the city is at a minimum and I wanted to work less and create more I decided to move back to Denver to be creative and save money. While there I went from tiny 2"x2" linocuts to 36"x36".

3 Where do you begin when you start a new piece? Is it the name, an idea, concept? I start with a photograph or an image in my head. Then I start drawing. While living in Denver I would ride my bike past Washington Park and see these perfectly manicured flowers that were so vibrant. One day I decided to photograph them and they were eventually integrated into one of my prints. I would just take weird aspects of obscure ideas and with linoleum those loose ideas would translate based on patterns due to the tools or even through little mistakes while carving. When carved, the piece takes on this whole other thing from the original concept.

4 The piece of yours that I have is 16 of 17 in a series. Is there anything behind the number 17? I like 7's, I like things to be a little off and the set to be more quirky rather than a typical series of 5 or 10.

5 Are you currently working on anything now? When I first moved to San Francisco, I did a few linocuts because I had access to printing facilities. Most recently I've been working on large scale drawings, which is a whole new thing. With linocuts the drawing is a preparatory step; it's something to get me started before I carve and print. Unlike the prints from my linocuts these drawings are a one of a kind piece. They are large scale, 22x30, with French shellac based ink and gouache. I'm also working with washes, 2-3 colors at first and now on to monochromatics with shades of blue. It's the same level of detail as seen in my linocuts but the figure has fallen out. Lately I'm drawing lots of structures, boat frames, buildings, crumbling temples. There are a few figures but they are more obscure. Right now it's more about abstracted buildings and fields of environments with the same sort of emptiness as before.

6 Are you currently showing your work? My work is showing at 18 Reasons in San Francisco until March 1st.

7 Who inspires you? In Denver, there are two painters who inspire me very much with the dedication to their craft and their beautiful imagery: Andrew Warner and Jean Warner. They are siblings and are showing work at the Hinterland Gallery. The show opened in Denver on February 6th. I also find Paul Wackers paintings to be oddly beautiful and intriguing. And in Barcelona, Spain, a dear friend, Gloria Vilches Fernandez, who I knew when we both lived in Chicago, makes stunning collages.


  1. great interview. I enjoyed seeing her art - very intriguing.

  2. Audra inspired me very much, too! Her linocuts are beautiful, misterious and fascinating.