ginger crawford tolonen
artist, printmaker and book artist
The undergraduate program at San Jose State University had a requirement for all fine art majors; we had to take a semester of printmaking. At that time my focus was in painting and thus I was coached into a monotype class. Intrigued, the following semester I took an intaglio etching class, and the next semester a lithography class. Honestly, I’ve never looked back. Printmaking, specifically intaglio, has become my medium of choice. However, I often work in monoprint and monotype, woodblock, and solar plate. Additionally I create an artist book every couple of years, and periodically a painting.
Most of my work is symbolic in form, with persistent themes from nature, home and family. Some of the recurring images in my work are the hopscotch, the ladder and the chair. The hopscotch is symbolic in my life as a time during my childhood that is remembered with a great deal of fondness, an almost tactile memory… I can feel the stone in my hand, the one that found it’s place into the square. The hopscotch image has a very interesting history, not just a childhood game, but in ancient history it was considered to be the pathway to enlightenment, paradise, glory, or a rite of passage, and for some the path to heaven. The hopscotch pattern derives from the Christian Cross and before that the figure of the labyrinth, a motif found as far back as the Iron Age. The labyrinth or hopscotch was often carved into the earth, much like I scratch into a printmaking plate.
The ladder may represent a quest. As the quest begins, one may continue up or down the ladder, on the journey. While climbing, sometimes there is a chair in the image where one can pause and ponder, rest and think. The resting place may be a place of meditation, a conclusion or a starting point for the next quest.
In the last few years I have incorporated stitching threads into some of my work. My mother did a great deal of sewing for my family and I always think of her as I stitch a chair a ladder or other symbol into the surface of the print. In this way I feel as though I am bringing my family and home through the work with me. The physical sense of a home is secondary as the work builds upon the security and identity of what makes a home.
Using a variety of printmaking techniques, as well as stitching and bookmaking I create work that resonates with the idea of home; of both leaving and returning, to belonging somewhere, and how that impact is both heard and felt.