About My Artwork
In my work, I blend architecture, urban details, and fleeting moments to tell a richly layered story not possible individually. I have always been fascinated with buildings during my travels abroad along with the historic skyline of my longtime home in Boston. More recently, I have noticed the details around us in the city: restored retro signage, the oddly painted door, and the outdoor cafe made from an old bus. I see this all as expressions of human creativity, the essence of what I am trying to capture in my work. With my etchings, I use the a photopolymer intaglio technique to translate photographic elements into printed form and then combine several plates into a single scene. For the cards, the every detail of the scene is simplified to lineart and printed on a Vandercook letterpress. The composite scenes build a narrative that represents how I experience the world in an attempt to create a feeling of nostalgia, permanence and personality.
Here is a interview of me produced by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone and Tommy Pittenger. The focus is about my process becoming an artist with some nice insight of how I work. View now >>
To start, I
make 3-4 trips through the area I want to capture. I take many photos and walk
with a heightened awareness; staying open to all that is around me. I walk up and down all of the key streets to thoroughly take in the area and capture what seems to be unique to the area. Once in my studio, I start the long process of editing the photos. I hone into the images of buildings, people, signage, etc, that best represent what I want to express. I finally select a set of images and isolate them from the background so they are stand-alone objects that can be placed anywhere in a scene.
Next, the most time consuming part, I slowly compose a scene. I try many different iterations; seeing which objects fit best together visually. I focus on scale, depth, and what should stand out. This is one of the most exciting steps for me; I feel like I am solving a complex puzzle. I know I am close to done when everything seems to start falling into place.
Once I am happy with the
scene, I break up the scene into different plates and print out each section
onto transparency film. I am now ready to make plates. I place the transparency
film on a photo-sensitive etching plate (in my case a Solarplate) and shine
U.V. light through it. Then the plate is placed in water. This etches the light
exposed areas and leaves grooves that match the image I want to print.
To print the image on paper, I rub ink into the plate
and thoroughly wipe off the excess. I lay damp paper onto the plate and roll
both together, under pressure, through an etching press. Most of my scenes
contain at least 5 different plates and so I use a registration sheet to keep the composition together. I lie
the registration sheet down on the press and build the complete scene a couple
plates at a time. I place the background elements first (send them through the
press) and then the foreground images. A final piece can take up to four passes
through the press.
Beth Kerschen is a
multi-disciplinary artist using photography and printmaking to express a unique
vision. She graduated with a Bachelors in Fine Arts from Colorado College with
a focus on photography, photo
illustration, and printmaking. After college, she moved to Boston and worked
for Polaroid; expanding her extensive photographic and digital imaging
knowledge. She worked for 10 years as a graphic designer with several creative
firms in Boston; eventually moving to Portland, Oregon in 2008. The move to
Portland was part of a career shift back to photography,
photo illustration, and printmaking. She uses a unique blend of photography and
printmaking to create her images.