Woodland Pattern Presents Never Exhibited Kingsbury Drawings
"A Personal Odyssey" Reflects Timely Beginnings
Before the exhibit closes on February 28, visit Woodland Pattern Book Center on East Locust. Their current exhibition “Anne Kingsbury A Personal Odyssey: Drawings from the 1960’s & Woodcut Self-Portraits” features never before shown pen and ink drawings by an extraordinary artist. An artist that has dedicated her life to developing the state’s art community, and so this exhibition reveals an intimate perspective on what had initially influenced her personal creative career over the last 40 years.
Kingsbury stepped outside her office at Woodland Pattern, where she has served as the executive director for more than 30 years, to converse about her work that was recently exhibited at a retrospective at RedLine Milwaukee in January 2013. When reviewing her artwork on display in January, created over decades using beadwork, collage, drawing, quilting, printmaking and woodcuts, Kingsbury discovered that all her artwork relies on elementary tools: her hand and the needle and thread, or her hand and the single, straight edge razor blade, or her hand and a pen with scissors. She demands control of what Kingsbury names “low technology” and defines this as being in direct contact with her medium. Currently, she’s completing on a miniature beadwork figure to add new work for another retrospective at the University of Wisconsin Steven’s Point in fall 2013.
The Woodland Pattern exhibition displays several late 1960’s drawings and woodcuts that were ultimately censored.Titled The Kiss and Adam and Eve, each series depicts less than anatomical Grecian perfection with a man and a woman moving in and out of a bath tub and chaise with disarming realism. Yet, these artworks were banned from exhibitions because of their nudity, although the conceptual ideas drew on art history’s long tradition reflecting Bibical narratives and the classical nude from antiquity.
Kingsbury also spoke to several older collages, three dimensional drawings with surreal narratives. One portrayed a woman birthing a child surrounded by winged human figures, reflected by their wind up turn keys placed on their backs. Surprisingly, Kingsbury commented that she was consumed by the process in constructing these images at that time instead of any conscious effort to explore their feminine narratives. She describes herself as a compulsive artist who marks paper with hundreds of tiny lines, has moving limbs on the human figures (Kingsbury enjoyed paper dolls) and then carefully pieced them together into this circular tableau.
Many of the pen and ink drawings have deckled edges, browned with age. Kingsbury’s richly detailed and evocative images require close observation, where the metaphorical and metaphysical implications may trigger the viewer’s imaginative memories. Memories one may appreciate and recognize in her complex drawing she titled Boarding the Bus, which depicts a young woman with tears in her eyes and a knapsack on her back. That young woman walks away from most likely her parents, who wave her goodbye while standing in front of a small car.
When Kingsbury walks through this exhibition, she notes an irregular stain that can be seen in the one corner of a small self-portrait, a golden stain Kingsbury says she can ignore and rather appreciates after all this time. Her lone figure resembles “an urchin,” she says. In other playful woodcuts, children circle their arms by clasping their hands in prints titled The Chlldren’s Hour. In these images the children appear as wood nymphs that might be dancing in a secret forest ritual, their pigtails flying and legs kicking. Kingsbury smiles when speaking of these urchins, perhaps they are an alter ego for her inner life or childhood, these wild children with mysterious black eyes? She says, “Not all children are angels you realize, they have that nature to be mischievous, too.”
Woodland Pattern Book Center presents "Anne Kingsbury A Personal Odyssey: Drawings from the 1960's & Woodcut Self-Portraits" through February 28. (www.woodlandpattern.org)