The Walter Darby Bannard Archive

Kate Borcherding (1993)

Mary Kate Borcherding exhibition, Miami-Dade Community College Kendall Campus Gallery, March 1993.

Kate Borcherding was recently appointed Director of the Area of Printmaking at the University of Miami, winning the job against very stiff competition which included a number of printmakers who are older and much more experienced. Our faculty was particularly impressed by her work, and I am very pleased to see it introduced to the Miami public in a highly respected exhibition space.

Kate's prints are large, black-and-white and figurative. They are meant, in her words, "to be a visual reflection of my responses to the immediate world and events around me." Her latest series, depicting palm trees downed by the hurricane, bears witness to that interest.

She works directly on luan and verola plywoods with power tools and Japanese woodcutting tools. She makes rough prior sketches which diminish in influence as the engraving in the large sheet begins to emerge pictorially and assume a life of its own. She works freely, almost recklessly, as visual ideas come up to her out of the work itself. Like an oil painter, she can allow herself the freedom to make "mistakes" because she has developed a method to correct them, using wood patching compound which can fill unwanted grooves and be reworked as soon as it sets. This lends considerable latitude to the process and is part of the reason Kate's prints have the force and flow of ink drawings while retaining the graphic sparkle and the deep black of the well-made print. Like most first-rate modern work, the work itself is full of the lively evidence of its own history.

It is important for the evolving young artist to find appropriate influences among the artists of the past and present; Kate's are diverse but become consistent in her work: The German Expressionists - Beckmann in particular, the Czech woodcut artist Jon Rambousek, Jawlensky, Motherwell, and Spearkis, a contemporary New York painter/printmaker. She is less interested in printmaking as such than printmaking as a way to make the kind of pictures she wants to make: direct, strongly graphic, sinewy and somewhat raw and rough images with a strong clear component of feeling in the content or depiction. To me the success of her method and the seriousness of her intentions come across most tellingly in the recent Palm pictures, which are as full of emotive evocation as the more overtly poignant figure pieces.

Those who make art with a craft process are those who are highly proficient in that craft and respect it but subsume it to art. These pictures tell us that Kate is one such artist. She is young and full of ambition and talent, and I look forward intently to the work to come.

Undersigned: Darby Bannard, Chair, Art Department, University of Miami.