Mitch Frey‘s awesome woodcut art pays homage to the classic techniques and motifs of relief block printing, while also portraying more contemporary subjects and styles. Open House shows a Volkswagen “Westy” Camper at Monument Valley, Arizona. Frey says this piece is inspired by the idea of living off the grid, as well as his own experiences hiking in remote areas. It is a color print which uses perhaps 3 to 5 plates, and the same carving has been printed in two different “states” to show the area in day and night. (In block printing, each color is usually printed with a separate carved piece of wood, linoleum, or other material. However, several colors can sometimes be combined in one plate if the areas do not overlap.)
Morning Routine shows two different scenes that are thematically related: one of a runner on a forest trail, and the other of a commuter on a highway at rush hour. Each is a complex, multi-layered print with half a dozen colors. The mountain in the background acts as an homage to depictions of Mt. Fuji in classical Japanese prints. The Handshake is a series of black and white prints which were then animated into a video, created for the 50th anniversary of the founding of Nike. Drawing a Blank is a conceptual self-portrait. It symbolizes memory and memory loss, with its pattern of lines forming his face that become further apart and scattered at the top of his head. It is monochromatic, except for his blue eyes, and its repeating patterns are slightly reminiscent of the famous printmaker M.C. Escher.
Frey is from Oregon, U.S., and worked in social anthropology and education before he began his career as a freelance illustrator.