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Soft Propaganda

An Exhibition by Kathie Aspaas

Opening Reception Friday, June 7th, 5-9pm

The Western New York Book Arts Center presents an exhibition by WNY artist Kathie Aspaas, on view June 7 – July 3, 2019. This exhibition is free and open to the public.

ON SATURDAY, JUNE 29th at 10am

Soft Propaganda is the antithesis of propaganda. With this body of work, Aspaas introduces alternative printmaking practices derived from experimenting with nature and collage.  Soft Propaganda links the art of printmaking with organic matter, rendering a byproduct of natural phenomenon using handmade paper and cotton fabrics alongside natural materials such as wasps nests and leaves.

Using an etching press to marry inks and natural dyes extracted from plants, Aspaas showcases this indigenous methodology and pathway for change towards a more humanitarian environmental practice.

“Harvesting the wonder of nature’s rhythm in syncopation with fragmented collage and print has been a theme throughout my career,” Aspaas says.

Currently the owner of Aspen House Press in Williamsville, NY, Aspaas is an alternative printmaker working with organic matter fused with print mediums and print collage. Originally from Houston, Texas, Aspaas has taught studio art, printmaking and art history courses at Buffalo State College, D’youville College and SUNY Erie.

Aspaas will also host an artist talk and drop in workshop on Saturday, June 15th.

Get to know Kathie…

        Kathie Aspaas is a mixed media artist and printmaker originating from Houston, Texas, and is the owner of Aspen House Press, a studio and workshop in Williamsville, NY. Believing that art is a crucial piece of her identity and growing up with two creative parents, it is no wonder that Kathie Aspaas’ art is rich with emotion and intent. Recalling her time in high school, Aspaas describes her first experiences with printmaking as “powerful,” something which all artists can only hope to feel from their craft. When her school’s art program was faced with a lack of funding, Kathie took matters into her own hands, using her uncle’s carving tools and pieces of wood to create woodblock prints. Aspaas’ work takes inspiration from poetry and the natural environment around her, which often seeps into her choice of subject and color, and further encourages her to use sustainable forms of art-making. Aspaas feels she is “deeply connected to the earth,” and recycles and composts as much as she can to avoid adding to landfills. During warmer months, Aspaas plants and harvests, experimenting with plant color pigments and new, natural textures for collagraphs.

        Additionally, Aspaas names artists such as Arthur Dove, an early American modernist who is considered to be the first abstract painter, and Romare Bearden, an African-American painter and collagist, as inspiration for her own artwork. Banksy, a political street artist named as another inspiration, sticks out to me in particular; Banksy’s work focuses on direct political activism, a concept which Aspaas subtly imbibes into her own work. Aspaas moves to create environmentally conscious art that “comes from the heart” and touches on activism, a major theme in her upcoming exhibition, Soft Propaganda. The presence of natural materials throughout Soft Propaganda accentuates the much needed focus on natural truth in a society which is becoming detrimental to its own democratic values.

        Delving into these topics of democracy, freedom, and defense against deceit, Aspaas views Soft Propaganda as a “shield” against injustice in all forms. Aspaas believes that activism is a “civic duty” of the American people, and that “forever we must stand together for truth and freedom with integrity and equal rights for all.” Aspaas views art as a core part of life, a way to effect change in both yourself and the world around you, and encourages young artists to take their time discovering as many art forms as possible. She hopes that “the new generations of artists will align with math and science, literacy, technology and commerce to create a more peaceful planet,” as “art is a universal language and communication through that language is an enormous opportunity.”       

Kathie Aspaas views Western New York Book Arts Center as “an inspiration” in her life, receptive to her artwork and encouraging her to create in new, unique ways. Aspaas enjoys using alternative methods of printmaking, which she often finds after playing around with the letterpresses in non-linear and abstract forms. When asked about a favorite piece that she’s created, Aspaas names “Blue Green Canyon.” Created in 2017, it’s a “splash of color” inspired by Max Ernst and the German Dada artists. “Blue Green Canyon” will be on display in WNY Bookarts as a part of Soft Propaganda, open June 7th – July 3rd.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank our funders listed below, for providing support to WNYBAC's ongoing programs taking place throughout Western New York:

NYSCA M & T Art 4 Moore Zenger Group Evans Bank Community Foundation Baird Foundation
Cameron Jane Wendt Foundation StoryGrowing