In the Studio with Lisa Bigalke

In January, RAM's Curator of Exhibitions Lena Vigna interviewed RAM Artist Fellowship Recipient Lisa Bigalke.

Lena Vigna: Please share the basics of your art career thus far. Education, years working, etc. How long have you been a part of the Racine/Kenosha community?

Lisa Bigalke: I have a BA from UW-Parkside and an MFA from Louisiana State University. I studied printmaking and book arts.

I have been working as an artist in the Racine/Kenosha community since 2000. Many of the local arts organizations have offered the opportunity to experiment. I have curated and hung many shows, organized fairs, tried out several fundraising event ideas, written articles, formed a salon, etc. and most recently helped plan a steam roller printing event!

All of these experiences have given me the confidence to try for more difficult opportunities.  2016 saw the fruition of many goals like getting my art in the Leicester Print Biennial 2016 traveling through the UK and in Global Print 2017 in Douro, Portugal.

Vigna: Would you please describe your work—what materials you use, what subject matters you explore?

Bigalke: My work is an exploration of self through a collage of landscape with macro and micro elements. I am a relief printmaker, preferring the slick clean graphic quality of the ink. Mostly I use linoleum, wood, paper, ink, speedball cutting tools, a Takatch press, and a 1940s Showcard poster proofing press. Occasionally I add silkscreen, lithography, embroidery, and handmade paper to add variety in the mark-making.

Vigna: How often are you in your studio? Do you work outside of your studio much or at all?

Bigalke: My art practice includes either the making of or the business side of art daily. My time is spent printing larger work at Carthage College or in my studio at home. Usually, I document places through drawing and photos. Then come back to my studio and start to collage together an image from the drawing, photos, and other source materials like maps, fossils, and nature patterns. I draw the composition out on linoleum and begin to cut the first color out. Print then cut again. Repeat until print is completed.

I spend an average of 36 hours each week on art. Reading, thinking, creating, business time, organizing, inventory, commissions, binding, construction and writing don’t leave much time outside my studio… however my sister claims I need time out of my studio so I don’t forget how to talk to people. And, I love teaching.  The combination of these two things means I usually teach 1-2 classes a semester at Carthage and, periodically, a bookbinding workshop elsewhere.

Vigna: What inspires you most these days? But also what do you go to bed thinking about most nights?

Bigalke: Inspires- Wisconsin, fossils, extinction, climate change, people who work really hard, my studio

Thinking about at night- Art and the end of the world…not kidding. Although, I usually wake up thinking about the specific project I am working on or my need to go outside for a walk or work in my garden.

Vigna: Why the RAM Artist Fellowship? Since we are midway through the process, can you assess how you are feeling at this point? Are you where you thought you would be?

Bigalke: With 18 months between the award and the exhibition, there is time to create a new body of work for this specific space [in the galleries at Wustum]. I am enjoying the challenge. And this fellowship is one of the few ways the professional artists who live locally can participate in the local arts community.

I am working on several bucket list celebration projects to wrap up a significant portion of my work with the Wisconsin landscape. These feature a panorama print that is in ten panels. It will ultimately cover a 20 inch by 33 foot space. It is thematically based on a trip my family took to Marionette County in 2015. We hiked every waterfall in the county! I just finished cutting my largest woodcut at two x four feet. In contrast, I am also working on a series of miniature landscape prints. All are under six inches square.