California based artist Carmen McNall is the maker of large scale woodcut installations that are painstakingly carved and carefully collaged to create an impressive new take on printmaking.
McNall's chosen subject matter are patterns that reference the natural world. She allows waves, ripples and the grain in the wood to come together on the surface. The natural pattern fits the natural wood material and she lets the natural colour of the wood come through each piece. While dark blacks and browns ground her giant works, they are brought to life with vibrant poppy reds, and cobalt blues. The way her blocks of pattern and colour are assembled together aligns with the tradition of quilting and, like quilting, they are impressive feats of planning and execution. McNall's work responds to the location to make a unique installation and through this she is able to push the effects of perspective to create illusions for the viewer. However, despite the structural stability of the wood blocks and their engraved patterns, there is an ephemerality to this work as installations are assembled and disassembled. Reliance on space and the response to it creates not only a temporality but also a unique, one of a kind visual experience.
Carmen McNall's use of the woodblock subverts the printmaking tradition. Instead of relying on it to transfer her final image, the matrix itself becomes the final work. She is celebrating the object itself and finding the beauty within it.