Conducted, transcribed, and edited by Mawi Sonna
This interview was published in the Apr. 2019 edition of Live Ideas. View it HERE.
Mawi Sonna met with Rachel Hermes to discuss art, the “artistic process,” and Rachel’s etching “Overcome,” which was published in the previous edition of Live Ideas. Below is the an edited transcript of their interview.
Mawi: Before we get started, could you introduce yourself?
Rachel: I’m Rachel Hermes a senior in Fine Arts with dual concentrations in Painting and Printmaking.
MS: What is an etching and how is it made?
RH: An etching is a form of Fine Art Printmaking, which involves a metal copper plate coated with a wax-based resist. An artist scrapes through the resist to form an image and then submerges it in acid. The exposed copper gets carved and the acid creates grooves in the plate. The plate will then be able to hold ink, which will then be pushed through a printing press where the image can be transferred onto paper.
MS: What was the thought process behind the creation of ‘Overcome’?
RH: With this piece it was straightforward. The emotion behind it was the feeling of something overbearing and coming over me that just needed to come out. Initially, I started this etching the same time I started the painting. The etching was a lot faster, and both ended up being quite different. Rather than transferring the image using a projector, I measured my body free-hand for the painting.
MS: We often hear about “the artistic process”. What does that mean to you?
RH: To me, the artistic process is everything from the initial idea to final result. It varies from piece to piece, and sometimes is more difficult depending on what the end result is. It can involve a lot of reworking and sketching. With an etching it’s incremental, systematic, and technical. I can ask questions like ‘how long does the plate need to be in the acid bath’ or how much resistant to use’, without necessarily having to make big changes. With painting, there is more pressure because there is more investment monetarily and with time.
MS: Could you describe your relationship with painting and printmaking? Is there more compromise with one over the other?
RH: With etching there is less control because there are things that happen when the copper reacts with the acid, such as foul bite. However, it’s one of those things you kind of expect and understand because it is part of the process. With painting there is more control with the brush. Even though you don’t have to try to print it, it involves more of a process because other factors need to be considered. Such as the layers that need to be built up and what colors go where, or what types of white paint will produce the desired effect.
MS: What kind of questions do you ask yourself, whether with ‘Overcome’ or other pieces you create?
RH: Some questions are ‘what effect do I want it to have on the audience?’ With ‘Overcome’ I decided that I wanted to draw the viewer in, to stand and look, and feel overwhelmed. Other example of a question I ask myself is, ‘how much time do I really want to spend painting blades of grass?’
MS: Why did you think your piece was a good fit for Live Ideas?
RH: Live Ideas seems to be aiming to showcase original and authentic works by undergraduate students. ‘Overcome’ is a very personal piece for me, in a sense it was something I had created for myself. I had submitted my etchings to other places before, but my paintings were usually favored over them. In a sense, it made a difference because it made me think about my work in words; something written that I don’t do often enough. ~