CONTACT: efarseth (at) gmail (dot) com
Erik Farseth is a printmaker, zine publisher, and collage artist based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Farseth is a 2013 and 2016 recipient of an Artist Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, and a 2000 recipient of an MCBA-Jerome Book Arts Fellowship from the Minnesota Center for Book Arts.
Erik Farseth is the author of the book American Rock: Guitar Heroes, Punks, and Metalheads (Twenty-First Century Books). His writings have also appeared in Punk Planet, City Pages, The Daily Iowan, Downtown Journal, and Maximum Rock’n’Roll.
Farseth is a former Chairman of the Stevens Square Center of the Arts, and co-founder of the annual Twin Cities Zine Fest (together with Gerald Prokop). He has curated group exhibitions at Big Table Studio, Gamut Gallery, SSCA Gallery, and other alternative art spaces.
I am a printmaker and collage artist specializing in relief prints and cut paper collage.
My latest series, Opposition-Defiant-Disorder, is an artistic response to events of the past 12 months, a tumultuous era in American life marked by police shootings, political extremism, and the resurgence of atavistic nationalisms as a force throughout the world.
Created against the backdrop of a nation that seems to be tearing itself apart, Opposition-Defiant-Disorder channels that same feeling of global insecurity into topsy-turvy landscapes, baroque machine art, fragmented fairy tales, and nightmare visions of a world gone awry; images offset by stark, monochromatic prints.
Like my recent storefront art installations (as well as my previous work as a volunteer board member for the Stevens Square Center for the Arts), this new body of work is part of a larger project dedicated to the democratic production and distribution of art.
Even when my artwork isn’t overtly political in its content, it is political in its process.
This is also the reason why I do not number – or edition – my prints.
CUT PAPER COLLAGE
Inspired by Cold War-era ad campaigns, my collage art uses the cultural detritus of the fading “American Century” to critique contemporary consumer culture.
Wielding a pair of scissors in lieu of a paintbrush, new hybridized images are gradually built up from dozens of cut paper fragments, arranged and rearranged, to create repeating patterns of texture and color.
Freely sampling and remixing old advertisements, these fractured photographs are deliberately stripped of their original context to reveal their “true” meaning.
The resulting photomontages are part satire, part decorative abstraction. These abstract collage “paintings” evoke a candy-coated version of American myth-making, myths then torn apart (literally) to create new meanings.
Since 1988, I have also been involved in the world of zines: small, self-published magazines produced as a labor of love, with no regard for profit.
My interest in collage grew out of my experience making zines.
Originally produced as photocopy art, the cut-and-paste aesthetic of the zine world was a direct result of zine publishers laying out the pages entirely by hand: a combination of line art, “found art,” Scotch tape, and glue sticks.
These are the same techniques that I use to create cut paper collage.
My relief prints mirror my work as a collage artist: both art forms rely on the use of cutting tools to remove excess material to reveal new shapes.
Part of what first attracted me to printmaking was the immediacy (and the physicality) of the relief process. There is something almost sculptural about the hard edges and bold lines of traditional black-and-white woodcuts.
THE DEMOCRATIC PRODUCTION and DISTRIBUTION of ART
Printmaking has always been a democratic medium. As a printmaker and zine publisher, the ability to generate multiple copies of an image is at the root of my artistic practice.
These are not precious art objects, to be displayed under glass. Zines are interactive: they are meant to be handled (and traded); to be read on the bus; or folded-up and carried around in your back pocket.
The same holds true for screen printing, regardless of whether the images are printed on paper or fabric.
I am less interested in the concept of “limited editions” than I am in the idea of printmaking as an art form that appeals to people who might never set a foot in a gallery (and who could never afford to own a painting).
The rise of the "gig poster," an affordable form of mass-produced art, has inspired me to combine my interest in collage art and printmaking to create screen printed posters.
Posters are equally at home on a gallery wall, or wheat-pasted on street corners, making this a very versatile and affordable form of art.
These works appeal to a different – and much wider – audience than that of traditional “fine art” printmaking.