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HELEN SCHMIDT: Between Worlds

Mitchell•Giddings Fine Arts

September 1, 2023

October 15, 2023
“I am between worlds in both the mediums I employ and the imagery I use. I will always be a printmaker because I love the mystery that happens when I pull a print off the press.”

Exhibit Details

I began this body of work two years ago in Maine, when I was drawn to stones resembling figures. I began making sculptures with them, and as I engaged in my next series of prints I wanted to emulate the colors of these stones as well as the lichens on the wet rocks, the sky, and the sea. I love the tactile nature of the stones, and in my prints I tried to express this texture by adding elements such as carborundum grit, sawdust, and dirt to the plates. The prints evoked by the stones began to mirror the internal path I had been on for many years. I began to research the history of ancient standing stones found around the world and discovered that they can be called menhirs and are often thought to facilitate a connection to the divine. In order to express the interior landscapes I was trying to represent, I felt I needed my prints to be more saturated and vibrant, so I started printing on Nepalese Lokta papers, which have a deep rich color. I used these papers for the initial collagraph prints, and adhered scraps of my previously printed rice papers using a technique called Chine Collé. Finally, I worked into each of these with oil paints and wax to create unique prints.

I am between worlds in both the mediums I employ and the imagery I use. I will always be a printmaker because I love the mystery that happens when I pull a print off the press. What is revealed can be slightly different from what I had planned, and this provides a new way of looking at the piece I am creating. It elevates my work and humbles me at the same time. As a printmaker, sculptor, and painter I love how the intersection of each of the media I use informs and enriches the other. I create deeply textured prints that are influenced by my sculptures, and paintings that are also unique prints. In this show I have tried to represent the states of consciousness I am navigating with different types of imagery. The internal map used to navigate the journey between the physical world and the world of consciousness is referred to in this series as the middle road. The imagery evoked in these pieces tries to describe the movement in consciousness from the realm of the individual mind to a more unified state of awareness that carries us into the realm of the soul, and in that state everything is luminous and vibrant and alive.

Artist Details

I am drawn to what has been discarded, to birch bark found on walks in the woods or pieces of old rusty metal. I try to use what I find, what I am given, and repurpose it to let a new form emerge. It is this remaking from one thing to another, this dissolution of boundaries that interests me. My work explores transforming outmoded forms and giving them a more expansive embodiment. This embodiment can be expressed as a sculpture that morphs from one form to another or a print depicting a process of renewal.

I try to let the forms I am given inform the imagery that emerges in my sculptures and prints. I often use the materials I find in my wandering as surfaces to print on.  I ink them up and print them onto handmade papers, then adhere them onto my intaglio prints. In this way, bark can be repurposed to become a map depicting an imagined new world. Corroded metal can be printed to reference a crumbling city or a barrier wall being washed away by the sea. Wood laminate might be printed in such a way that suggests images of climate refugees. Discarded auto parts and machine moldings grow bones, ferns, or feathers to become torsos shedding their outdated armoring.

I see things in nature and transform them into new representations. In a world that requires us to address change actively and with intention, drawing on this artistic practice has opened a pathway towards adaptation. This process has helped me engage more openly in my relationships and the way that I see the world. In this time of accelerating change we live in, we are being asked to take a hard look at our biases and our political and interpersonal relations, and try to shift them. For instance, climate change and global migration in the form of climate refugees is forcing us to rethink our concept of national identity, asking us to change from policies of isolation to those of inclusion.

I am interested in the role art plays in the wider social arena as an impetus for change, as well as its role in personal transformation. I think that personal change can come from one’s work in the world as well as from turning the gaze inward where our actions and beliefs can shift through centered awareness. My work explores the intersection between the external and the internal as new connections are created, and we find alternative sources of renewal. I am drawn to what happens when one form morphs into another, and we move from a binary and divisive human reasoning to a more  interconnected way of being.

Artist Page


Mitchell•Giddings Fine Arts

183 Main Street Brattleboro, VT 05301