It’s been a while since we last interviewed an Artist of the Month, as we had a busy summer gearing up for shows, like this one. We have also been working on this shop, which is very exciting. Alas, no excuses, and we have a very special interview with Ms. Leni Fried, who we have visited before, in her inspiring studio in beautiful western Massachusetts in the Berkshires.
Leni is a printmaker, and has been teaching mostly monoprint and collograph for over 3o years. She has elevated our questions into a conversation all of her own. We let her have free reign as she had much to share and much to say:
Art has no one mission statement as what drives me for producing a piece of art is always in flux.
After our government’s violent response to the terrorists events of September 11, 2001, I was so upset, I could not make any art for 3 months. My artwork became intensely political once I emerged.
The piece below is called, ‘The people say no to war propaganda’.
When I saw our governments response to Hurricane Katrina I began a series of linocuts. The one below is called ‘The Faces of Katrina.’
and this one ‘Abandoned’.
I was amazed to discover that the artwork of many of my artist friends did not seem to be affected by current events. For me art is a barometer of our time and has the potential to create powerful changes.
My favorite artists have varied tremendously throughout my life depending on what subject matter and technique I am working with in my own work.
When I lived in the city I was very attracted to Romare Bearden’s work. The flatness of his imagery and stark use of color and of course the power and poetry in his work still moves me tremendously.
You probably can see by looking at this detail of his famous piece called ‘The Block’ how he influenced the cityscapes I was doing at the time.
Most of the greatest artists are the ones who are not in museums. Museums recycle the same artists in a continuous loop.
Of the famous artists I have been influenced by the Matisse cutouts, Hundertwasser, Paul Klee, Munch and others. Less famous ones, such as Bread and Puppet theater, my friend Helio, Bob Blackburn, Mary Teichman, Sarah Sears and many more I’ve met along the way will probably never be celebrated in the more public sense. They have inspired me the most.
‘Artist in Holyoke by Leni Fried’
Right now I am in love with Asian art. I never expected to do landscapes and in my 30’s I often mocked landscapes in terms of having very little to say. Placid exercises in realism…
But now I have been doing a series of tree prints especially winter imagery. This work is influenced by Hokusai and other great Japanese printmakers. Here is one of the winter tree prints called ‘Skyward’.
As far as papers go I have always loved paper which is one of the reasons I love printmaking.
I buy paper from all sources. What I love most about Paper Connection is that Lauren shares my love of paper as well. I am working on a series of scrolls which are imported from Beijing. They are blank and I print on the thinner papers from Paper Connection and adhere them to the scrolls. Almost any thin paper you (Paper Connection) carries will work for this. My favorites are in the HK series, that are very smooth and some that have a browner tone.
I use lightweight Kozo (#M-0207-2) for my classes because it is inexpensive and prints consistently.
Paper Connection’s papers are useful for hand printing because they are thin and the surface is very sensitive.
Here’s a peek at the new series using vintage Japanese red kozo paper. These chickadee prints are made using one plate made from mylar. The mylar is double thickness and linear elements are added using a stencil burner that melts and abrades the surface. There is a rainbow roll with oil based inks on the background. The chickadee is inked with black like an etching and then the rest of the colors are handpainted. They are monoprints because of the hand painting and that the positioning on the plexi background plate will vary from one print to the next. The other chickadee prints are done similarly. Some are mounted in the Chinese wall scrolls and the thin Japanese paper is from Paper Connection.
Learn more here.
Painting But Not On Paper
Besides printmaking, I have done quite a few bicycle paint jobs throughout my life.
They are hand painted and quite complex. This one involves anodizing titanium and is a memorial to my customer’s golden retriever! So here’s a picture of one of the bikes even though this is not paper related.
This was a client from Hawaii. Anela means angel. Kauai is the island he lives on.”
Where To Find Leni
These and other prints can be found on Leni’s Etsy shop! She also conducts workshops, which are very one on one. Monoprint, collograph, and some hand printing techniques are taught. She will start a class anytime with 4 people.
Leni is also having two open studios this Fall season. Her studio is also open by appointment.
Here are some other community events she is participating in:
Her studio i
Check out her calendar here.
To catch up with Leni and all her works, please visit her following websites:
Thanks, Leni, for sharing all your insight into your art, and your support of real fine art paper!