Outdoor Palette

My visit to Thom Egan’s Hardwick, Vermont, studio this early spring came at the end of a very long, gray winter. It felt like my rods and cones – the retina’s receptors for light and color – had begun to atrophy from lack of stimulation. Gray had predominated the landscape’s palette for months, so it was a great pleasure and relief to look through Egan’s color-saturated images.

Egan is a printmaker who specializes in handmade woodcut block prints. Woodcuts are an artistic relief process, produced by gouging out an image on wood, inking the resulting raised surface, and then pressing a piece of paper onto that inked surface to create an image. Egan typically uses four blocks of wood to produce one layered image. This multi-block approach lends his work a great sense of color depth.

Bathers depicts a nighttime scene of swimmers in the Connecticut River. Stars stud the sky and the mountains seem to reflect an earlier sunset. The two abstract forms in the pocket of water are simplified but recognizable. The water scintillates around and through them, altering our preconceived notions of human proportion. Egan says that his overall aim “is to affect a harmonious, if uneasy, balance that is evocative of experience.

This paradox approaches a resolution, such that whatever the complexities involved, the image will become unified.” Bathers is an expression of integration in nature, whereby the water and the bathers become one event, one articulation. Egan is drawn to multiplicitous ideas – both conceptually and in terms of the inherent nature of printmaking – where many things become one.

Thom Egan has his BFA from the University of Massachusetts and his MFA from SUNY Albany. He is represented by Alice Perron and may be reached through his website.

 
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