By Dave R. Davison
“Mare Made,” a show of work by local artist Mare Blocker, spans more than four decades of Blocker’s work. The show runs at University of Puget Sound’s Collins Memorial Library through January of next year. The artist’s reception for the show is Sept. 14, 4:30-6:30 p.m.
Teacher, mentor, writer, illustrator, printer and book artist, Blocker’s work incorporates wit, humor, personal reflection and commentary about our world using a variety of techniques, formats and materials.
In her own words: “In 1979, I made my first trip to the Special Collections Library at the University of Washington, which literally changed the pathway of my life. I realized that one form, the book, could encompass my interdisciplinary passions.
“This was my epiphany and I have been a book artist since. I purchased my first printing press, a Vandercook 219, and founded the MKimberly Press in 1984. Teaching affords me the opportunity to print with my students, while teaching them to print. Our exchanges have informed my work, and added another layer to my interdisciplinary practice.
“I like to think of the lab as a contemporary medieval workshop. When everyone is working and the presses are running, there is a feeling of community that is magical. Nothing can prepare you for that first proof, that alchemical moment of turning lead into words on a finely printed page. I feel honored to be able to pass this tradition on.”
Collins Library is honored to showcase the career of Blocker in this retrospective exhibition that runs through January showcasing her early work as well as the most recent project “My Beloved Community Dictionary Project.”
For this project Blocker invited 200 of her closet friends to contribute a 6 x 8 linoleum block of a single word that will be woven together to form a community quilt of words. According to Blocker, “I have always been drawn to illustrated dictionaries. I love their little pictures, charts and lists of cities and places. I’ve been contemplating a dictionary project for years, and now that I have my power press up and running smoothly, it’s time to jump into it.”
Blocker received her M.F.A. from the University of Idaho in 2006 and her B.F.A, in ceramic sculpture from the University of Washington in 1982. She is a member of the faculty of Pacific Lutheran University and serves as an assistant professor of art and design. She teaches classes in the art of the book and printmaking and was instrumental in established the Thornily Printing Center at PLU last spring. She is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades and you can read more about her work by visiting her blog site: mareblocker.blogspot.com.