Helen Gerritzen, "Breath," 2005, graphite and gouache on paper on canvas, 60" x 40".
SNAP Gallery, Edmonton
By Mary Joyce
Among the tools that Helen Gerritzen uses for her August exhibition of new works at the Society of Northern Alberta Print-artists Gallery (SNAP) are pairs of darkened, reflective 3’ x 4’ copper plates and a skeleton-like, white-painted tree branch. Gerritzen, a drawing instructor in the University of Alberta Faculty of Fine Art, juxtaposes the physical, mortal body — a body of disease, desire and involuntary states of being — against knowledge, power and language. To embody this opposition, she sets up life-like processes for slow transformations, using such tools as gelatin and the printing press, shiny dense copper sheets eroded by gritty traces of treatment with a needle, a drypoint tool, spit-bite etching, or a full acid bath. She may use a large paper sheet prepared with a digital image to receive the collaged print, then further affect the surface with drawing and paint. Besides the branch, symbolizing the trachea of Greek mythology’s Daphne at the moment of her transformation into a tree, her show will explore images of antlers, corbels and animal enclosures.