Vision of Patience
By Greg Schaber
Chouteau’s reduction color woodcuts take months to create, which explains why most of the foundational pieces for “Genocide of the Conscience” were completed during a sabbatical that ran from the Spring 2006 through the Fall 2007 semesters. She begins each piece with a drawing, which she transfers to her plywood working surface. Chouteau then uses a Dremel cutting tool to carefully score thousands upon thousands of fine lines in the wood’s surface. When that’s done, she uses poster-board stencils to mask all but the areas that will be lightest in the completed work. She then rolls ink onto the exposed portions of the wood and does one or more color tests before pulling the actual print.
After each step, Chouteau cuts away the wood from the printed portion and moves on to the next-darkest color. She repeats this process until her darkest layer of color is in place. In less-complex works, like “Polar Bear,” which depicts a bear caught on the border of water and melting ice, she may use 10 layers of color. More complex works, such as “Darfur,” may have 20 or more layers.
“Every color has to be printed separately,” she says, “and then you cut to save each color. So it’s this process of 40 runs through the press before you get to your final print because every print has to go through a different level until you get to your final color. It’s sort of like excavating, sort of revealing things as you’re doing it.”