Janet Marcavage is a Tacoma artist whose work has been exhibited nationally and all over the world: China, England, Ireland, Italy and Portugal. She is a master printmaker, and an Associate Professor of Art at the University of Puget Sound. Her work may be described as introspective and intellectually engaging: for instance, in a series called Profile, she takes the color code used to represent nucleotides in DNA testing, and deconstructs it to create the basis for a new pointillist palette, of sorts. She uses this new, information-rich technique – represented in the medium of an exquisitely precise, dot-print paper that she prints by hand – to create portrait silhouettes of her own family.
For Artscapes, Marcavage is creating a completely different type of work, to be installed at Tollefson Plaza (S. 17th & Pacific Ave.) on July 29. She is applying her printmaking skills to the design of big, bold Pop Art flowers that will find a home strung along the plaza’s railings. “This project is more playful and brighter than my previous work,” she says, “a chance for me to utilize printmaking on a larger scale than usual.” The brilliant mega-flora printed on weather-resistant Tyvek require a 4′ screen and a 40” squeegee to make – and an extra hand to print: “It took two of us to pull the squeegee. I haven’t done that before.”
So how did she make the leap from investigating the genetic code to mining Summer of Love symbology? “My two-year-old daughter really inspired the flowers. Flowers are decorative icons found on almost everything marketed to girls. I’ve found from previous installations that going a little bigger and [more] colorful was more effective for public spaces. Some viewers may experience the work from a car, [and] if it is too subtle in this sort of setting, it won’t be noticed. I think that it brings some beauty to the plaza; when I have been testing out some of the flowers on the site, people walked by and smiled.” Untitled, Tollefson Plaza, S. 17th & Pacific Ave., July 31-Sept.15, 2010; www.janetmarcavage.com