The Art of Cindy Ricksgers

For a number of years people have been aware of a kind of Renaissance of the Arts on Beaver Island, which, in conjunction with reawakened traditional cultural values, has changed the tone of the local atmosphere. Galleries and art sections in gift shops have proliferated, and artists practicing a wide variety of genres have moved here or begun spending more of their available time here. Visitors wanting to take something back to remind them of our extraordinary ambiance are narrowing their general quest to a search for something unique.

If any one person is to be credited for this transformation, it is Cindy Ricksgers. This university-trained artist has been living here and working to develop her vision for many years. She has taken a straight line, albeit through daunting, threatening territory, and has emerged from the towering brambles onto a broad and brightly-lit plain.

Like all true artists, Cindy's art defies precise definition, because it is true to itself, not to any preexisting set of rules. One aspect of her training was as a printmaker, yet it would be correct to answer the question "When is a print not a print?" with "When it is one of Cindy's collagraphs." To approach the amazing depth and nuance of her work, it helps to know a little about the process she has evolved for generating these hybrid forms.

Briefly, Cindy creates a plate, uses it to print a black-ink design on heavy paper, paints over the design with water colors, and then runs the work through her press again to restore the original design. But the way she creates a plate is an art form in itself. She begins with a pressed board or masonite backer, upon which she gradually builds a collage. She uses a broad and in fact unlimited variety of materials for this collage, from pieces of cardboard to a variety of papers (some of them crumpled), sandpapers,cloth, thread, leaves, and even splattered or dripped glue ... anything that inspires her with its texture and connotation. The result is glued down and given light coats of satin varnish to fasten it more firmly. Once it is dry, she can prepare the paper, which is kept wet overnight and then allowed to dry while she applies the thick, tarry ink and spends the hour it takes to carefully wipe down the plate with a rough-to-smooth sequence of oilcloths. Then she's ready to cushion the plate-and-paper pairing with four layers of felt, and run it through her press.

When the result emerges, she is not yet at the midpoint of her act of creation, which can absorb forty hours of her time. Now the task of adding color begins. Her plates are so delicate that three or four printings might be all they can produce in their brief life--the record for the most durable is twenty-five. But having three or four printings allows her to compose three or four variations on the same theme. Each coloring produces its own associations and stands as a remarkable and singular work of art. Yet to see the small run of variations placed next to each other is breathtaking, and viewers consider them, taken together, to comprise a unique work of art at a transcendent level.

The images she evokes, the forms she uses, have evolved from her youthful memories of safe havens in a tumultuous world. These images guide her in selecting the materials and shapes for the collage that become the plate. Those who have observed her life-long artistic maturation are reminded of a girl going home through the woods when it's almost dark. Cindy has passed through periods of having to deal with hostile portents and finally reached a radiant and safe base. Each of these collagraphs testifies to that success. Each involves hope, and confidence, and light.

The development of art proceeds along several simultaneous paths, led by pioneers who blaze their own way into uncharted territories. Frequently the resistance they meet makes it dreary going for much of the way. Those of us who have been privileged to witness Cindy's evolution have no doubt that she is at the cutting edge, and that through her dogged perseverance she has made her work of love a real joy to have in our world.

Click on any image to the right for a larger view.

Note: these images, while capturing one aspect of the many hues each actual work transmits in real-world light, are rather flat and do not do justice to the shimmering vibrancy and rich texture of the art itself.

And after you have finished viewing these beautiful collagraphs by clicking on the thumbnails to the right, you can see more of Cindy's work online at Main Frame Gallery (Mt. Pleasant Michigan) or at Livingstone Studio (Beaver Island, Michigan)
 

 

 

 

 

for the time being        
 
untitled . unique        
 
sanctuary        
 
patter song        
 
touch point        
 
untitled . unique        
 
patter song        
 
wellspring        
 
kinship        
 
cat's day        
 
riddle's logic        
 
untitled . unique        
 
for the time being        
 
cat's day