Johanna Winters

Articles

Dowagers

The Dunderheads (as I lovingly refer to this set of oversized geriatric heads) have taken a detour into the realm of puppetry!

Over the summer I traveled to my hometown of Minneapolis to study with puppeteer and playwright Michael Sommers, who is the magic force behind the Open Eye Figure Theatre. While allowing me full access to his studio and stage, Michael taught me marionette-building skills and also helped me develop a loose narrative for my troupe of puppets, titled “Dowagers.”  I finished developing the performance this fall, and performed “Dowagers” with my cohort MaryAnne Carey at Gallery 1010 in Knoxville, TN.

It was a strange and delightful evening.

Dowagers (detail)

Meet the Dowagers

“Dowagers” is a long-form cyclical narrative that involved two human-bodied dowagers playing with a pair of their puppet-bodied counterparts. Every fifteen minutes, the large-headed “puppeteers” approach the table-top puppet stage to perform a puppet show: the puppets wake up, acknowledge each other and the puppeteers, they primp, and wait for their daily ration of liver pâté. Upon receiving the pâté, they eat ravenously until they discover a tooth hidden at the bottom of the can. The puppeteers pull back the curtain under the table to reveal that the puppets have been collecting and hoarding teeth over a long period of time. The puppets are tucked back into bed, and the puppeteers retrieve to their living room to listen to the radio, play cards, do crossword puzzles, mix cocktails, or go out for a smoke. They also offer liver pâté and cookies to the audience. After fifteen minutes, a timer dings and the puppet show cycles again. There is no dialect, just murmurs between the puppets and heads.

Bad Mitten

This February  I completed a  collaborative project titled ‘Bad Mitten’ with fellow graduate student MaryAnne Carey. Performed as a live event in downtown Knoxville, MaryAnne and I  played repetitive rounds of tetherball while wearing larger-than-life puppet heads. In between each round, we carried out a baptism-like ritual while our ‘Master of Ceremonies’ kept score.  We considered this performance to be about power imbalance, redemption, ritual, humor, and  shame. 

Bad Mitten: This One and That One (detail)

This One and That One.

Bad Mitten (detail)

This One and That One (detail).

Bad Mitten: Baptism (detail)

The Baptism (detail).

Bad Mitten : Baptism (detail)

The Baptism (detail).

Bad Mitten: The Minister and the Dunce (detail)

The Minster and the Dunce (detail).

 

 

Make Doubtful and Have Work

Rejoice! I have emerged intact from my first semester of grad school. I’m currently into the thick of my second semester, and despite the now-standard  feelings of self-doubt and self-consciousness, I’ve begun making work that seems to be shifting in  a steady direction. Some underlying ‘grad-school’ themes that I’ve detected thus far: having the endurance to make work  while tolerating  feelings of uncertainty (“is this good enough, am I good enough” etc,  etc); riding out the swells of mini-disappointments and triumphs; relishing in the moments of genuine satisfaction of making something good before it is exposed  to the world!

The Yam Men

Some of the non-print / puppet-like work I’ve been exploring recently.

The Gomers

Another troupe of pitiful puppet-like characters.

So long, Wisconsin

My final summer in Wisconsin has come and gone, and I  have u-hauled  my belongings southward to Knoxville, TN to begin my quest for an MFA in printmaking at the University of Tennessee. Coined the “scruffy little city by  the river,” Knoxville is tucked  in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains – and as a  Midwesterner accustomed to a flatter landscape, I am delighted by the lush  hills surrounding the city and looming in the distance. That being said, I feel  a great sense of nostalgia for the sprawling landscapes of my  northern homeland.

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Farewell to the familiar surroundings of Northeastern Wisconsin farmlands.

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Pleased to be in close proximity to the majestic Smoky Mountains.

Spring Hustle

The first warm currents of spring brought about the completion of my winter residency at Guttenberg Arts. Within a week  of packing and shipping off my studio supplies, I had moved back to the Midwest, and also accepted  admission at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville’s MFA printmaking program. It’s good to be back in the familiar Wisconsin landscape for a short while and reflect on the past season of art-making.

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Pledging allegiance to the noble state of Wisconsin at the Stillmank Brewery, home of the Wisco Disco Amber Ale.

northerlandish

Northerlandish Menagerie is a joint exhibition by myself and fellow printmaker Don Krumpos that opened this spring at Columbia College in Missouri. Each of us exhibited recent prints portraying a cast of impish characters that consider ideas about nostalgia, ritual, failure, and the follies of human nature and personal myth.

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One half of Northerlandish Menagerie.

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Captivated by the curious work of Shreyas Karle and his Museum Shop of Fetish Objects at the New Museum’s 2015 Triennial in NYC.

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I was also mesmerized by Wael Shawky’s marionettes from his exquisite Cabaret Crusades at MOMA PS1.

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Four of the eight intaglio prints that were part of my final series at as an artist-in-residence at Guttenberg Arts.

 

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The second part of the print series I created at Guttenberg Arts.

Culling the Herd

Guttenberg Arts Gallery is currently exhibiting Culling the Herd, a collection of my former and recent intaglio prints. My most current work portrays a cast of impish characters that both mock and celebrate the gluttony and banality of Middle America. These intaglio prints depict delicately-rendered mammalian creatures, particularly goats, that are confined, trapped, and stranded in sparse and absurd environments. These horned beasts act as scapegoats of sorts, burdened with the task of both personifying and deflecting my dismay at the antics of myself and my northern brethren.

The Decoy, intaglio with monotype

The Decoy, intaglio with monotype

The Skeptic

The Skeptic, intaglio with monotype

the accomplice

The Accomplice, intaglio with monotype

'Culling the Herd' install is complete.

‘Culling the Herd’ install is complete.

Installing my first solo show in the Garden State (or any state for that matter)!

Installing my first solo show in the Garden State (or any state for that matter)!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winter on the Eastern Seaboard

The residency at Guttenberg Arts is just over the halfway point, and I’m chipping away at a series of intaglio prints depicting my morbid cast of goat-like characters. The stubborn wintry weather is great for staying holed up in the studio!

On deck for the acid bath.

A new sketch on deck for the acid bath.

The Skeptic

Here is the finished print with a monotype color roll in the background. I call him/it The Skeptic. 

 

Master printer Chunwoo Nam shows the Guttenberg artists some tips on printing intaglio plates (using my plate for the demo!).

Master printer Chunwoo Nam shows the Guttenberg artists some tips on printing intaglio plates (using my plate for the demo!).

The Decoy

The Decoy, another new print in the mix.

 

New Digs in New Jersey

I am delighted to be participating in the Guttenberg Arts Residency Program in Guttenberg, NJ this winter and spring. Situated just across the Hudson from Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Guttenberg Arts is a new non-profit arts organization that provides space, time, and exhibition opportunities to emerging printmakers. For artists hailing from outside the tri-state area, the residency also offers a convenient proximity to the countless museums, galleries, and art spaces throughout this dense land mass.

I’ve schlepped my essential belongings from Wisconsin, and am now getting accustomed to my new surroundings (and becoming more savvy about public transportation schedules and fares). Though I miss the open and natural spaces of the Midwest, the distinct landscape here straddling the Hudson River is very much worth exploring.

The residency culminates in early April with a group exhibit, showcasing work by the three current artists in residence. Until then I’ll be keeping my Midwestern antics in check out here in the big city, and making a goodly amount of prints!

I don’t think I’ll tire of the Manhattan skyline views.

I'm looking forward to getting inky in the studio at Guttenberg Arts.

I’m looking forward to getting inky in the studio at Guttenberg Arts.

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The Jersey Highlands on a winter morn.

Ungulates Again

Two recent prints, in all of their ungulate  glory.

Wet Willie Wagon Intaglio with monotype

 

The Culprit

 

 

 

Mid America Print Council Conference: Detroit or Bust

Wayne State University in Detroit was this year’s host for the biannual Mid America Print Council Conference. For print enthusiasts within a 500-mile radius of Midwestern soil (or beyond, I suppose), the MAPC conference is a weekend-long binge of printmaking delights.

A detail from one of Enrique Chagoya's mesmerizing artist's books at the Elaine L. Jacobs Gallery in Detroit.

A detail from one of Enrique Chagoya’s mesmerizing artist’s books at the Elaine L. Jacobs Gallery in Detroit.

Another detail from Chagoya's accordian-folded artist's books. The pages are filled with irreverant, poignant, and sardonically clever eye candy.

Another detail from Chagoya’s accordian-folded artist’s books. The pages are filled with irreverant, poignant, and sardonically clever eye candy.

 

 

Chagoya's books are infused with references to pop culture, current events, and the book-making traditions of Mesoamerican culture.

Chagoya’s books are infused with references to pop culture, current events, and the book-making traditions of Mesoamerican culture.

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Diego Rivera's 'Detroit Industry' fresco at the Detroit Institute of Arts is breathtaking. This is merely a portion of the mural that spans twenty-seven panels from floor to ceiling in the museum's courtyard. Completed in 1933 during the Great Depression, this work is considered one of Rivera's finest and pays homage to the industrial culture of Detroit.

Diego Rivera’s ‘Detroit Industry’ fresco at the Detroit Institute of Arts is breathtaking. This is merely a portion of the mural that spans twenty-seven panels from floor to ceiling in the museum’s courtyard. Completed in 1933 during the Great Depression, this work is considered one of Rivera’s finest and pays homage to the industrial culture of Detroit.

 

 

The Eastern Market district in Detroit is a unique cluster of converted warehouses, turn-of-the-century brick buildings, galleries, a robust farmer's market, and ample splashes of street art such as this doozy.

The Eastern Market district in Detroit is a unique cluster of converted warehouses, turn-of-the-century brick buildings, galleries, a robust farmer’s market, and ample splashes of street art such as this doozy.

 

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Signal Return is a local letterpress print shop in the Eastern Market neighborhood that hosts community letterpress workshops. Plus, their shop is brimming with letterpress posters, greeting cars, and other designery ephemera for sale.

Signal Return is a local letterpress print shop in the Eastern Market neighborhood that hosts community letterpress workshops. Plus, their shop is brimming with letterpress posters, greeting cars, and other designery ephemera for sale.

Some locked up wood type ready to be inked and printed. Farewell Detroit, until next time!

Some locked up wood type ready to be inked and printed. Farewell Detroit, until next time!

My Inaugural Frogman’s Print Workshop

Each summer hundreds of printmakers (okay, maybe one hundred total) make the pilgrimage to the Midwestern plains for the annual festivities at Frogman’s Print Workshop. Frogman’s has been hosting printmaking workshops since 1979, and is now housed in the art department at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion. This summer I was fortunate enough to win the design scholarship for a week-long workshop, and thus drove through corn country where, for two weeks, the college town of Vermillion is infused with printmaker geeks.  All the hype that I had heard about the workshops absolutely held up: it was one of the most invigorating and productive weeks that I’ve had as an artist in a long time. It was quite refreshing to be surrounded by so many print enthusiasts and many of my printmaking heroes, and I now can fully comprehend why Frogman’s is legendary among our ilk. 

Professor Michael Krueger sharing his wisdom at the etching press.

Professor Michael Krueger sharing his wisdom at the etching press.

A new print that I'm working one. I learned how to use soap ground!

A new print in the works. I learned how to use soap ground!

Apparently no Frogman's is complete without a costume bowling party. May I introduce to you the Funky Ungulates.

Apparently no Frogman’s is complete without a costume bowling party. May I introduce to you the Funky Ungulates.

 

New work in progress

I’ve been making a number of goat sketches in the past year, and I figured it’s time to pay homage to my favorite ungulates by making prints about them. I’m drawn to goats because they are equal parts demonic-looking (those horizontal pupils!), and lovable.  They’re such hardy hooved beasts with cute underbites that will happily eat from your hand.

 

Got goats on the brain.

I’ve got goats on the brain.

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A first proof pulled from the line etch.

 

School’s Out for the Summer

This is the final of five posts in the series  My Stint in Packer Country.

One of the last ‘hurrahs’ of the semester was to update the printmaking studio decor. Art students took on the task of curating the troves of student work from past semesters, and selected an array of prints to be hung from the railings above the studio with a nifty system using disc magnets. A nice touch, indeed.

The Railing Gallery is complete.

The Railing Gallery is complete.

Printmaking Excursions

This is four of five posts in the series My Stint in Packer Country.

Though more popularly known for its sacred football landmarks, Green Bay happens to be situated in proximity to a number of gems in the realm of printmaking. I embarked on a few excursions to these sites with students both in the fall and spring semester.

Tour and printing demo at Hamilton Woodtype & Printing Museum.

Tour and printing demo at Hamilton Woodtype & Printing Museum in Two Rivers, WI.

 

The UW-Green Bay Curator of Art, Dr. Stephen Perkins, shared his robust collection of prints with printmaking students this winter.

The UW-Green Bay Curator of Art, Dr. Stephen Perkins, shared his robust collection of prints with printmaking students this winter.

Touring the UW-Madison print studios was like a walk through printmaking stardom.

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At Tandem Press we marveled at the massive press, immaculately clean studio, and stellar print collection.

 

 

 

 

 

Paper Theatre After Dark: Part Two

This is three of five posts in the series My Stint in Packer Country.

Mr. Sommers worked with art students to animate 2-D imagery using elements of puppetry and shadow theatre with overhead and opaque projectors. The workshops culminated with a public performance where students exhibited their animations in downtown Green Bay. I participated alongside students both in the workshops and performances, and the experience of working in methods unfamiliar to us (using low-tech animation, and working under tight time constraints) and performing in front of an audience was immensely rewarding.

A scene from the paper animation ‘Kraken Sculls’ by Brandon Langer, Phil Enderby, and Lauren Sinner.

 

nasty lil JJ

One of the characters in ‘The Alchemist’s Indigestion’ by Don Krumpos and myself.

Another leading character from 'The Alchemist's Indigestion.'

Another leading character from ‘The Alchemist’s Indigestion.’

 

 

Paper Theatre After Dark: Part One

This is two of five posts in the series My Stint in Packer Country.

One of the highlights from this past year was hosting Minneapolis-based visual and performance artist Michael Sommers. In the months leading up to his visit, students, myself, and my fellow colleague Don Krumpos raised funds by designing and selling screenprinted t-shirts and posters.

One of the more popular t-shirt designs, by Don Krumpos and inspired by Albrecht Dürer’s ‘Knight, Death, and the Devil.’

 

 

A selection of designs that were printed onto t-shirts as part of our visiting artist fundraiser.

Paper Theatre Promo Posters

Paper Theatre After Dark posters hot of the press.

 

Paper Theatre Promo Posters_detail

Detail of Paper Theatre After Dark posters. Designed by Don Krumpos and printed by Johanna Winters.

 

My Stint in Packer Country

This is one of five posts in the series My Stint in Packer Country.

In September 2013 I accepted a one-year teaching position at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay in the printmaking department. School’s out for summer, and now I can look back with some perspective on this odyssey in academia!

Behold the UW-Green Bay print studio, the night before the first day of the semester.

 

 

The Sideshow: Finale

A few images from the finished project are on display here. View the whole series at bandersnatchpress.com.

Dow Jones' Industrial Batting Average Fluctuates Over the Course of Wednesday Night CrossFit Training

Dow Jones’ Industrial Batting Average Fluctuates Over the Course of Wednesday Night CrossFit Training

Jerry Gets Homesick at the Hedge Fund Summer Camp for Privileged Youth

Jerry Gets Homesick at the Hedge Fund Summer Camp for Privileged Youth

How the Sequestration Ruined Danny's Summer Vacation

How the Sequestration Ruined Danny’s Summer Vacation

 

 

The Sideshow: Installation

After many laborious hours at the press, The Sideshow is complete! All that’s left are the finishing touches: sign, frame, and hang the work. Small potatoes.

Making it official.

Making it official.

So far so good.

So far so good.

Is that a piece of fuzz under the glass?

Is that a piece of fuzz under the glass?

 

 

 

The Sideshow: Pulling a Proof

The most gratifying part of printmaking is finally pulling a proof off the press.

Inking and wiping the plate is one of the more taxing steps in the printing process.

Inking and wiping the plate is one of the more taxing steps in the printing process. Ink is pushed into the etched lines, and then the smooth surface of the plate is wiped clean.

Inked and polished, this plate is ready to roll through the press.

The etched lines and textures hold ink and will transfer onto a piece of dampened paper when run trough the etching press.

Ready to roll!

 The plate and paper are placed underneath the felt blankets. Ready to roll!

 

 

 

The Sideshow: Time For An Acid Bath

One of the more exciting (and suspenseful) steps in the etching process is drawing an image onto the ground-coated plate, dunking it into the acid bath, and etching the drawn lines into the plate. Ferric chloride is the etchant used for copper.  The amount of time that the plate spends in the ferric determines how deep the line etch will be.

Using an etching needle, or scribe, to draw into the ground-coated copper plate. Mistakes can be touched up with more ground and small paint brush.

An sharp etching needle, or scribe, is used to create detailed lines in the ground. The copper is exposed underneath.

Submerging the plate into the vertical etching tank for about 40 minutes should do the trick.

Submerging the plate into the vertical etching tank for about 40 minutes should do the trick. The ferric chloride will ‘bite’ or etch the exposed drawn lines.

 

The Sideshow: Getting Underway

Drawings for the etching series are complete, and next up is cutting, polishing and prepping the copper plates for the acid bath.

 

Cutting the copper plate with ye ol' step shear.

Cutting the copper plate with ye ol’ step shear.

 

Polishing copper is a satisfying task when you start with a scummy sheet of copper and end with a shiny plate.

Polishing copper is a satisfying task when you start with a scummy sheet of copper and end with a shiny plate.

 

Applying an even layer of acid-resistant ground. It looks (but does not smell) like molasses.

Applying an even layer of acid-resistant ground. It looks (but does not smell) like molasses.

 

The Sideshow, Continued

Smoothing out the kinks in another drawing for The Sideshow.

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My Inaugural Blog Post: The Sideshow

I’m getting underway with a new series of etchings, titled The Sideshow, that depicts a ragtag band of misfit performers who meander through ambiguous storybook scenery. This is a first-time collaborative effort between me and fellow printmaker Don Krumpos. We developed the drawings for this series in tandem, and are splitting up the labor in the studio: prepping the copper plates, etching the plates, applying aquatints and soft-grounds, printing, going back and re-working the plates (to fix our mistakes), and printing/editioning. Sharing these tasks has made the workload much more manageable. And so far there have been no major spats between the two of us.

 The Sideshow_working process