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Alum Q&A: Multimedia artist Jordan Ann Craig ’15
by Lauren Pinchuk, The Dartmouth, 9/25/18
Multimedia artist Jordan Ann Craig’15, a studio art and psychology double major, has spent her time as an artist pursuing printmaking and painting. In 2017, she received the H. Allen Brooks Travelling Fellowship and was able to travel to London, Venice, Amsterdam and Cork.Currently stationed in Cork City, Ireland, Jordan has been building up her portfolio as an artist-in-residence at Cork Printmakers.
How did you end up in Cork City?
JC: Well, I was actually here as part of my Brooks Fellowship in February. So I was printing here for about a month at Cork Printmakers, and the studio invited me back to teach a master course in monoprinting. I had a free month so I decided to make my return. I really enjoyed living in Ireland and making work here, so that’s why I came back.
Can you describe some of your favorite pieces that you completed while at Cork?
JC: When I was here in February, I made four artist books and a series of monoprints. The artist books were mainly monoprints inside and I worked with a local bookbinder named Barbara Hubert who works here in Cork City — she has a bookbindery so I was able to finish the books with her help. I learned bookbinding at Dartmouth, and it has been amazing continuing the practice.
What exactly is monoprinting?
JC: So monoprinting basically means that you only get one outcome — mono meaning one. Printmaking typically means that you’ll have a matrix where you can repeat an image multiple times in making an edition. But with monoprinting, you get one result, and you might get prints that are really similar but you’ll never get the exact same thing.
Did you know after the monoprinting course at Dartmouth that that’s what you want to specialize in?
JC: I didn’t take a printmaking course until the summer before I graduated. I took [a monoprinting course] with John Lee and it changed my life — the process of monoprinting and the printmaking studio in general. It inspired me to apply for funding through Dartmouth to continue my printmaking practice in communal print shops across Europe. So after I graduated, I immediately joined the print shop Kala Art Institute in Berkeley, California, and continued printing and making art. I then applied for the [Brooks Fellowship] and got the funding to work in print studios in Venice, Italy, Cork, Ireland, Amsterdam and then finally London.
Do you think that printmaking is mostly what you want to focus on now?
JC: It’s actually a mix between painting and printmaking. Admittedly, my paintings are very printerly in approach and process. I have been mostly printing since Dartmouth, but I had the opportunity to paint in Santa Fe, New Mexico this year as well. I was also the 2018 Eric and Barbara Dobkin fellow at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe. I created 12 large-scale paintings studying their extensive collection of Southwestern Native pottery. I’ve really been bopping around the world doing residency after residency. I’ve been really lucky and privileged to have these opportunities to continue my art practice. It’s been a mix between painting and printmaking and book binding as well.
So were you first introduced to book binding at Dartmouth as well?
JC: Yes, for my honors thesis, I had to bind two artist books. I was able to work with Sarah Smith in the Book Arts Workshop to learn various binding techniques and create a few books in my time at Dartmouth.
Do you see yourself staying in Ireland for a while?
JC: I will actually move to London in a month — I will be working at East London printmakers doing a keyholder residency. I definitely foresee myself returning to Cork periodically to make prints.
Will you also be teaching classes in London?
JC: No, I will be building up my portfolio in London. For me, I just love making the work and my next step is to start selling it. But for now, I just love creating the work.
What would you say is the main inspiration behind your work? You mentioned you are Native American, and Dartmouth has a long history in its dealings with indigenous students. How did this contribute to your work?
JC: It’s actually becoming more and more prominent in my work as I get older and I realize what I want to make my work about. And at Dartmouth, I think most of my work was basically experimentation and figuring out the mediums. I was a painting concentration so I took many painting classes and my work is naturally abstract ... you can see remnants of that in my work now, even though now I’m taking on whole new subject matters and ways of making, and I’m learning new mediums and new print methods. So, for instance, when I was the Native artist-in-residence at [the School of Advanced Research], I was studying indigenous pottery for the first time, and that has really opened up so many potential pathways that I could go down with that method of studying these concrete objects. It completely changed my way of working — having a concrete object rooted in history and significance. My project became so much bigger than me. It was an honor looking at these artists’ works who came before me and translating and recontextualizing these designs into large scale pieces. So that work was huge in the momentum I’m building. I was in residence for three months from March until the end of May in Santa Fe, and after that I basically had two days at home in California, and then I flew to Amsterdam to continue my Brooks Fellowship at AGA Lab. And so, it was really incredible because I was able to print these patterns using different colors and scales. In Amsterdam, I also learned textile printing, which was a huge addition to my process of working. It makes sense with how I work to repeat these patterns on textile. So that residency in Santa Fe was incredibly inspiring to how I think and how I plan projects. I’m still learning a lot, and this was the first time I created work influenced by indigenous design.
Do you think you’ll continue with the same inspiration that you got in Santa Fe in East London?
JC: I’m not sure; I think potentially designing some new patterns because I’ve been working with the same patterns for six months now. So I’ll probably stay rooted with this idea of pattern-making with indigenous influence, and make a full new body of work with new patterns. I will return to textile printing as well in East London. I have been commissioned to screen print on silk which will later be sewn into a coat in Santa Fe. I have been really excited to see my work as wearable art in the fashion world.
Do you still stay in contact with the studio art department here at Dartmouth?
JC: I definitely do. I write professors quite often to update them on what I’m doing, where I’m at in the world ... especially because I got really close to the art department. They are my mentors — they provide a lot of guidance for me still, even where I’m afar. I’ve been out of Hanover for quite a while, but I still stay in contact with a majority of my professors actually. And I also stay in contact with the faculty running the Book Arts Workshop too, since I’m still making books and they like to see what I’m up to as well. While at Dartmouth, Enrico Riley was a mentor and honors thesis advisor. I also took John Lee’s monoprinting course and Jen Caine’s “Printmaking 1” course, and TA’d for Louise Hamlin’s [SART 27] course. I became very connected with the print department pretty late in the game. My professors have been instrumental in preparing me for my career as an artist, and support me as I take on this journey.
What was your first studio art course at Dartmouth?
JC: My first art class ever was Esmé Thompson’s “Collage Bridging the Gap.” The first day of class my freshman fall, Esmé let me add the course to my schedule just hours before the class started. Esmé’s teachings in that course motivated me to continue taking art courses and major in studio art. I took an art class every single term that I was at Dartmouth. I was very studio art-centered at Dartmouth — I spent way more time there than anywhere else.
So how has the Brooks Fellowship helped you?
JC: [The fellowship] is a Dartmouth funded fellowship that you can apply for as an alum — up to five years out, you get priority. That was a major fellowship that really got me started as an independent, emerging artist out of college. I don’t have a regular job — this is what I do for my job. I travel from one fellowship to the next. I sell work as I go — it’s really nice. It’s been a really exciting year, I’m hoping next year will be even crazier.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.