Above: Elke Claus “Cosmic Skyscape” silkscreen and monoprint
June 2nd – June 22nd, 6PM – 10PM
5216 Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60625
In “Skyscapes” handmade prints depict “the cosmic” in overlapping patterns, high-key colors and lush textures. Instead of stars, moons, and clouds being rendered as natural and universal; these skies are highly stylized and indicative of period graphic styles. Each piece combines the use of lithography and silkscreen printing and is made with handmade fluorescent ink or metal leafing. The result is an exploration of the essence of the hand- printed mark: a look that defies the flatness and limited palette of digital printing. Each print is one of a kind, yet all are created using repetition and photomechanical imagery. The artwork reveals a love of all things “printmaking” and a desire to celebrate the aesthetics of ink on paper.
Throughout my career, I have developed my own artistic style and techniques through printmaking. Though it is now an underrated medium, printmaking allows for infinite variations of the relationship between mechanical production and a human touch. Some of its more sensual and sculptural qualities are impossible to achieve with state- of- the- art digital graphics. Working in my studio means unveiling such qualities with handmade translucent, fluorescent and metallic inks and layered analog imagery. Science and occult textbooks have been the source for most of these illustrations and thereby convey what is normally “unseen”. The resulting hybrid of old- fashioned craftsmanship and cosmic beauty springs from the colors and textures of real woodcut, silkscreen, and lithography. It is my sincerest wish that the artwork I produce would offer something stimulating and compelling to the viewer, while sustaining printmaking’s tradition.
My career began at Rutgers University in New Jersey, where I worked in a professional print studio, The Rutgers Center for Innovative Printmaking. There I collaborated with New York City artists in the creation of lithography editions. At the same time, I was an intern at the infamous Franklin Furnace, an avant-garde art space in Tribeca. During those years it housed the country’s largest collection of artist’s books, which I helped organize. These two formative influences have left me with a deep love for technical craftsmanship and the daring of non-conventional, contemporary artworks. After moving to Chicago, I became a teaching assistant at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I currently teach printmaking at Lill Street Art Center and The Hyde Park Art Center (both in Chicago). There my students will always gain confidence in their art skills while being challenged by sources beyond the sketchbook or easel.