Originally a graphic design major, Grand Rapids-based artist Alynn Guerra, 40, has studied everything from painting and sculpture to silversmithing, though her career is now dedicated to printmaking. Her bold and organic work features lively prints of skeletons, plants and other living creatures. According to Guerra, her work “always carries a concrete message, but it is also very likely that you may be able to insert your own story.” Here’s the story she told Revue.
How did you get into printmaking?
I do mostly printmaking because I enjoy both the process and the final product. I love printmaking and the affordability of the work, the aggressiveness of the carved lines transferred on the paper, its inherent quality of being reproduced and still being able to be called an original piece of work.
Have any particular life moments helped mold your artistic style?
Moving into an intentional community and, as a result, becoming politicized, learning about other movements, meeting activists, gardening, sharing and learning tolerance. I wouldn’t be the artist I am now had it not been for that.
Do environmental issues inspire your art?
I’ve always been worried about the way we abuse the earth. As I grow older I witness more complex ways of abuse: biotechnology, fracking, oil spills, nuclear spills, to only name a few. It isn’t getting any better and we are all dying from cancer, stress. Making prints about the future of our environment is a way to get it out of my system and not go crazy.
You’re also a mother, has that affected your work at all?
Being pregnant had me in a constant state of anxiety, freaking out about how our world was going to end during my daughter’s lifetime. I turned off all the news sources and still I would wake up from vivid post-apocalypse nightmares. So I started embracing them and that turned out to be a great source of inspiration.
How has your work evolved over the years?
My work has become more subtle, organic and less angry. My first prints were very confrontational and bold — the message was depressive or hopeless. Not that the world has become a better place, but I’ve become less angry and more hopeful. Also, if you really want to get your message across, being nice is a better strategy.
What’s some advice you’d offer to newbie artists?
You have to be fearless about exposing your soul and heart for everyone to see. The moment you start worrying about what others may think, you start questioning your ideas and the creative process is ruined. I’ve learned to forgive myself if I create mediocre art, I call them exercises. Also you have to be able to make the most of your time and money and keep your soul and sanity in the process.
Visit Alynn Guerra’s Etsy store, Red Hydrant Press, at etsy.com/shop/redhydrant.
Fallasburg Art Festival: Sept. 19-20
Tanglefoot Building Artists Studio Sale: Nov. 20 and 22
Forest Hills Fine Arts Center: All of March 2016