Art Treatise: Carving to Create Art

BY Jessica Novak

The word “print” can mean apples cut in half painted and pressed to paper making the image of a star. Or the raised type of an old printing press inked and set to paper. There’s the Cameron Art Museum’s Tokaido Highway series of Japanese woodblock prints and the museum’s current exhibition of 140 prints from Louis de K. Belden’s collection.

There’s a common denominator. Making prints is complex sometimes toxic or dangerous and the tools used and techniques employed are only limited by the artist’s imagination.

Wilmington printmaker Jeremy Millard created a 30-foot-long print from five woodblocks using power tools and a 2-ton construction paving roller last year. The content of this work is strong and flowing showing scenes from a construction site at the beach. It expresses feelings of man’s immense power mirrored in the weathered timelessness of the sea. His images honor the strength and grace of the workingman and call to mind images of Diego Rivera’s work in Rockefeller Center and Detroit industry murals.

Millard is an artist teacher family man and construction business owner who makes reduction relief prints from wood carvings in his spare time and biannually for Printfest. He teaches at the University of North Carolina Wilmington surfs off the Carolina coast and is from a family that makes it a point to pass along art to each new generation.

“It’s a family affair ” he says. “We love doing work and art. Our kids do art; we try to pass it along.”

A reduction uses the same piece of wood (block) that is carved down or reduced a number of times. After each carving it is inked and pressed to paper adding detail with each step. The wood is used once and the carving can’t be undone. When the art is made the number of prints is set.

“The benefit of doing a reduction is that the registration meaning how everything lines up is easier ” he says. “But if you only make four of the first you only make four of the whole thing. Because if you cut into it it will never be the same. In a reduction you destroy the block essentially.”

An end isn’t necessarily a sad thing. Often you need to move forward to the next creative adventure. Artworks are like mini adventures you can revisit any time to capture a moment or to go down a path of experience. They may stimulate the heart mind and imagination or simply be a connection with another person and provide company.

Millard’s work can be experienced in UNCW’s Cultural Arts building in the side lobby by looking up to the mezzanine and also in surf shops on Wrightsville Beach. Millard will also exhibit with his wife artist Casey Scharling at Century 21’s downtown office and art gallery for November’s Fourth Friday event.