Printed Flight // Lisa Matthias

Exhibition Dates: March 1 – April 5, 2024

Opening Reception: Friday March 1 @ 5 – 8 pm

Artist talk: Saturday March 2 @ 1pm
In-person and livestream via Zoom

This talk is free to attend and open to the public.

Exhibition Text by Blair Fornwald

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Martha Street Studio is pleased to present Printed Flight, a solo exhibition by Lisa Matthias (AB).

Printed Flight explores the worlds of songbirds, insects, and landscapes, through the media of woodcut printmaking, ecological soundscape, and stop-motion animation.

Matthias not only highlights songbirds but also brings attention to insects in this exhibition. The fusion of printmaking and time-based intermedia is evident in an animated video piece that offers a unique depiction of moth-watching as a form of wildlife observation. The captivating soundscapes presented were recorded during two artist residencies undertaken by Matthias in 2023, providing an immersive auditory experience complemented by woodcut print landscapes.

Printed Flight features Matthias’ largest work to date, The Ornithology Collection, a 15-foot woodblock print. This piece, part of a series depicting bird nests of various species, arose from the artist’s in-depth study of natural history specimens at the Royal Alberta Museum. 

Matthias, who is also an ecologist, seamlessly integrates her scientific knowledge into her creative practice. The result is a collection of contemporary visual artworks that challenge and engage viewers, emphasizing the critical themes of biodiversity and our environment.

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Artist Statement

As an interdisciplinary artist and trained ecologist, my work revolves around natural history, conservation biology, and the environment. After working for over a decade as a botanist and wildlife biologist in western Canada, I switched career paths to pursue the visual arts full-time, completing a Master of Fine Arts in Printmaking. The foundation of my creative exploration lies in observation and inquiry. I document and study nature and the environment through various art media and often using science-based processes like microscopy, field sound recording, writing, wild species counts, and collaborations with scientific colleagues.

My ongoing conceptual and field research spans several areas. A primary focus on songbird ecology examines bird vocalizations, nest-building, and migratory patterns. This work was influenced by my documentation of the ornithology nest collection of the Royal Alberta Museum and an artist residency at Point Pelee National Park, Ontario, an international birdwatching destination. My exploration of insects in my creative practice parallels my avian studies. Several years ago I started moth-watching, or “mothing”, using nighttime moth lures. This led to other new developments such as recording insect sounds and making insect-based stop-motion animation.

Embracing multidisciplinary studio approaches, I maintain a common thread of experimentation and production. Within the visual arts, the uniqueness of printmaking lies in its diverse technical procedures, aesthetic qualities, and the potential for innovative approaches. A significant portion of my work involves black and white woodcut prints. The sculptural quality of the woodblock; the materiality of the wood, paper, and ink; the graphic nature of relief print images; and the layers of technique and skill involved all draw me to this medium. Additionally, I regularly create multimedia pieces featuring ecological soundscape and hand-printed or drawn stop-motion animation. By pushing the boundaries of my creative practice, conceptually, aesthetically, and materially, I strive to create meaningful work that engages with contemporary dialogues surrounding environmental crises, including biodiversity decline, habitat loss, climate change, and interconnected global inequalities.

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Artist Bio

Residing just outside of Edmonton, Alberta, Lisa Matthias is an interdisciplinary visual artist with a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Alberta, and a Master of Science in plant ecology from the University of Manitoba. Her artwork has been exhibited in exhibitions across Canada, the US, and internationally, and is represented by two commercial art galleries. Transitioning from a career as a botanist and wildlife biologist in western Canada, Matthias‘ creative process integrates science-based approaches with a studio focus on printmaking, and expanded print practices incorporating stop-motion animation and sound. Alongside her studio practice she teaches community art classes in Edmonton. She is a parent to twin school-aged children, and her love for animals and the outdoors deeply influences her work.

Pronouns: She/her/hers
Website: lisamatthias.com
Instagram: lisa_matthias_art

January 31, 2024