When Metal Meets Paper: Lynn Batchelder in the StudioJuly 28, 2016
In her work as a jeweler, Lynn Batchelder hand-cuts thin, intricate lines with a jeweler’s saw directly into metal forms, then assembles them to form three-dimensional, wearable objects. She has never been afraid to show the hand behind her work, whether in jewelry or drawings—or, now, in prints. During her Ora Schneider residency in the Etching Studio, Lynn explores the printmaking process to marry her work in metals with her works on paper.
“A lot of what I do is based on the limits of the hand and how I can challenge those self-imposed limits,” says Lynn, who considers her work ultimately rooted in the drawing process. “I don’t overthink my drawings or try to make them cleaner. This way, my hand is visible and each individual line has a personality.”
At WSW, Lynn forgoes the traditionally chemically-assisted etching process in favor of the direct and immediate approach to markmaking that informs her metals practice. Using her jeweler’s tools, she engraves thin, wavering lines into her steel and copper plates and carves out uneven shapes, celebrating the imperfection of drawing by hand. She hammers, sands, and drills, experimenting with the different marks each of her tools makes on the plates. Here, she translates the tactile qualities of her jewelry and objects into flat, abstract pictorial elements.
Using just a few small plates, Lynn made several unique prints by rotating the plates with each run through the press. Inspired by Minimalist artists of the 1960s, she creates subtle works out of simple elements. Her fields of tight, fine linework resemble interwoven swaths of fabric, and are reminiscent of Agnes Martin’s wobbly grids. Lynn’s undulating linework collides into itself to create dense, overlapping visual textures that trick the eye into perceiving shapes and planes of depth on the flat surface of the print. The forms may call to mind a doorway of light, or a shadowy mountain rising up out of a rippling body of water, or a computer glitch.
“I’ve found a sense of surprise in not knowing what each piece will look like just from engraving it on the plate,” says Lynn. “It needs to be printed.”
But even as she focuses on print, Lynn remains deeply interested in exploring the space between the two- and three-dimensional. In another series she cuts, folds, and glues her prints together to form a rectangular box, attaching it to a flat print of the same wood-grain-like texture. This juxtaposition engages the perception of the viewer and invites them to experience the print as an object in space rather than only as a flat image on the wall.
Lynn experiments with such deceivingly simple conceits—like rotating a copper plate or constructing a paper box—in order to create work that not only surprises the viewer, but also surprises herself. When she first came to WSW, Lynn felt a deeper connection to her metal plates than to the prints they yielded. But once she surrendered herself to the uncertainty found between plate and paper, she embraced the element of chance in printmaking—and discovered new ways of seeing and thinking through the processes in her all her work. Now, she’s taking what she learned back to her metal studio.
“Sometimes I just need to allow myself to do something that doesn’t necessarily make sense to me at first,” says Lynn. “When you know how something is going to turn out, then what’s the point? Where’s the excitement?”
Lynn Batchelder is a jeweler making art and teaching in New Paltz, NY. She has a BFA in Metals and Jewelry from Western Michigan University and an MFA in Metals from SUNY New Paltz. You can find more of Lynn’s work on her website lynnbatchelder.com and see more images from her residency on our Flickr.