Name: Grace Bentley-Scheck
Studio location: My home in Narragansett
Current/upcoming exhibitions: Group show with 19 on Paper at Wickford Art Association; upcoming show with 19 on Paper at Francesca Anderson Fine Arts in Lexington, Massachusetts
What is your background? I was born in Troy, New York, and I have a BFA and MFA from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. After graduation, I taught art in public schools for 12 years until fate allowed me to become a full-time artist.
Why create art? When I was 9 years old, I saw painting supplies in an art supply store window, and it was an epiphany. I simply want and need to make art.
What is your preferred medium? Why? My preferred medium is printmaking, specifically collagraph with silk aquatint. My education at Alfred was heavy on three-dimensional forming. The aesthetic came directly from the master potters of Kyoto, earthy colors, lots of texture, and acceptance of the happy accident. Teacher pay did not buy much living space back then, and I began to make prints cutting wood blocks on my kitchen table and printing them with a wooden spoon. Later, I saw an exhibition of collagraphs and was inspired. I also read a book by Donald Stoltenberg, who makes printing plates by painting on silk organza adhered to a substrate. I tried his technique but disliked the absence of texture and embossing. Then I tried combining the two processes.
How would you describe your work? My images are architectural. They begin with an instinctive perception of the geometric space and also refer to buildings’ relationships to other buildings.
What was the inspiration for a recent body of work? I often work in series. A recent one is the “Memories and Transformations Series.” The buildings depicted are in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City where there have been many changes in recent years. One of the new constructions was a Frank Ghery building that is very different from all the buildings around it. One of the old constructions is the High Line that has changed from a train track to an urban park. My series studies the relationships between existing structures (memories) and new constructions (transformations). I am also working on a series of landmark buildings.
Who’s work do you admire? Why? Clare Romano and John Ross, printmakers, teachers, and authors of “The Complete Printmaker.” Their book was very helpful to me.
If you could experiment in another medium, what would it be? When I have time, I like to play with collage. When proofing an edition, I end up with prints that are almost perfect, but not quite acceptable. I like to cut them apart and play with the resulting shapes. It’s a way of going back to the underlying abstraction of the prints.
What is your dream project? My dream is to have enough time to execute a dream project.
What do you do when you’re not making art? I like creative cooking, gardening, amusing the dog, and I love long walks on the beach.
What are you most proud of? Why? I’m most proud of being in a two-person show at my New York gallery in December 2015-February 2016, and as a result being elected Print Artist of 2016 by the Print Club of Rochester. I felt as if I made it in spite of all the people who have tried to hold me back.
Do you have a favorite art spot? Newport Art Museum and Hera Gallery.
What advice would you give to aspiring artists? Learn to criticize your own work objectively. And persist.