Indonesian-American artist Wijati Soemantoro created the series “The Ring of Fire” — on view as a solo exhibit through October 5 — as a response to her experiences with natural disaster. Abstract, multilayered, and interconnected, these are all lithographic prints that started out as drawings.
We asked the artist to tell us more about how it’s done.
Why did you start expressing yourself in this way?
Wijati Soemantoro: In my home country, Indonesia, natural disasters happen frequently.
Recently, Mt Sinabung, Tanah Karo, North Sumatra was active and erupted. Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, mud slides, and floods are natural phenomena that impact my feelings directly and strongly. They are embedded in my long-term memory and need an outlet to be freed.
De-cluttering feelings stored in my memory takes time. It is impossible to depict unseen feelings of pain, sadness and hopelessness, unless we can find a way to release them through imagination or skill. The impact of natural disasters have been stored in my body and mind, creating chaos in me. When I am overloaded, then is a good time to create.
Why is lithography the best way to express these emotions?
The repetitions, timing, and patience of lithography is the best way to express my emotion, which comes from outside motion triggered by natural disaster. Layers of emotions, superimposing one onto another coming from different times and places, can be accurately represented by lithography. In the process of creating this theme, I draw from many different tools, involving chemistry, movement, emotion, and action.
Lava #1 through #3 in “The Ring of Fire”
What different tools do you use to draw/print?
Mylar and plastic transparency
Korn’s Litho pencils, crayons, Tusche, Ink,
Acrylic and Tempera
Exposure unit (Amergraph metal halide exposure units capable of exposing photo sensitive plate)
Positive plates (aluminum plate coated with photosensitive emulsion. When exposed to ultraviolet light through a film positive, the emulsion hardens. Further processing reveals a positive image.)