Bess Frimodig, Fukuzoku Koto Gakkō High School Year Book, Kanazawa, Japan.
‘the stranger is a newcomer, which as in the sociology of creativity, is interested in seeing things afresh’ (Wolff, 1995:5).
At 16 years old, Frimodig won a scholarship to Japan to learn about woodblock printmaking. By doing so, she followed the trail of Ukiyo-e, or Prints of the Floating World, which for her had started at the age of five after seeing a book of reproductions of Hiroshige’s The Fifty-Three Stages of the Tokaido (1960). She had read these images first as fairy-tales. Later, they began to resonate at a deeper level.
Sartre (1947) argues that the need to create is essentially a moral search for freedom through transcendence. Nevertheless, Frimodig questions the validity of a life in art because how can someone measure the use of art? Nothing else drives her. Her practice as a print-based artist is her instrument in the world. It is also her dilemma. This is the emotive force behind Frimodig’s creative and academic practice.
Focussing on human rights and sustainability, her work is a moral stance interlinking relationships, community, context and social outreach with creativity and craftsmanship, together with an individual vision.
This ethos examines integrity, authenticity, sociability and cultural democracy to be disseminated by the medium of printmaking as a means of participation.
Frimodig is connected to society and printmaking in complex and various ways. Starting at the margins, the practice is a journey home only to prompt her to set out again. The print that she develops, collaborating with people, scraping down to a shared meaning to mark its thought onto an etching plate of her own making, helps bring print back into the wider community and the institutions, to continue a dialogue together.