Alicia Burnett 13 IL
Based in Niskayuna, NY
I'm Alicia Burnett and I'm the founder of Wolf Jaw Press. I fell in love with printmaking while I was an undergraduate illustration student at the Rhode Island School of Design. At RISD, I took a silkscreen printing class during my junior year and I was instantly hooked. As a student that was interested in illustration, printmaking, graphic design, and textiles, screen printing seemed like the perfect marriage of all my artistic interests. Now I live in NY and print and sell my work through my business/studio.
What are some things that inspire you in your studio practice?
My body of work stems from my lifelong fascination with and affinity for the animal world. From the time I was old enough to comprehend that I shared this earth with other living, breathing, non-human beings called “animals,” I’ve been obsessed with observing and learning about the diverse creatures that walk, swim, and fly on this planet. As a young child, I begged my parents for horseback riding lessons. I was less excited about riding the horses and more interested in the simple pleasure of spending time in the presence of such exquisite beauty and unrestrained power. I wanted to be on the ground next to the horse, sharing an intimate moment as two equals. To stand next to this huge, strong animal that towered above me as I rested my head on its chest, listening to its soft nickers, was an experience that felt almost religious. It’s these kinds of experiences that directly influence my art. It’s difficult for me to precisely identify why I find animals so engaging as a subject matter. My motivation to render portraits of animals seems to come from a deep and primal part of my psyche that is nearly impossible to access or explain with words. If I had to take a stab at explaining myself, I think my inspiration arises from projecting my own emotions onto the animals I feel compelled to render. I empathize with the resilience and loneliness of a sole bison trudging through the deep snow of an unforgiving winter; I can feel the intense singularity of purpose of a wolf chasing down her prey. I use animals to express or represent intense psychological or emotional states of being. I feel compelled to create portraits of animals that express a presence and energy that extends beyond rational human understanding. This level of knowing and feeling can only come from a close sense of kinship and respect that borders on reverence. I identify with my fellow creatures, and I understand that we are more like them and they are more like us than we realize. Here imagination also comes into play. I may never get a chance to share intimate space with an African lion, but through art I can indulge my fantasies. Creating these portraits is a way for me to foster a sense of intimate knowing of an animal without the need to be in the physical presence of that animal. Motivated by a strong sense of kinship, creating portraits of animals allows me to expresses the closeness I feel and the respect I have for the animals that I share the planet with.
Does your current creative practice tie into your time spent at RISD? How so?
Absolutely! I fell in love with printmaking while I was an undergraduate illustration student at the Rhode Island School of Design. At RISD, I took a silkscreen printing class during my junior year and I was instantly hooked. As a student that was interested in illustration, printmaking, graphic design, and textiles, screen printing seemed like the perfect marriage of all my artistic interests. My passion for screen printing lead me to establish Wolf Jaw Press after I graduated.
Is there a work/body of work that you are particularly excited about sharing with us at RISD Craft this year?
Lately, I've been enamored by birds of prey. The piercing gaze of hawks, falcons, and eagles in combination with their formidable yet graceful nature is deeply inspiring to me as an artist. I've been working on a series of North American bird of prey prints that I'll be sharing at RISD Craft. I'm super excited about it.
Any recent press/exhibitions/achievements you'd like to share with us?
I do! Here is an interview I did with Folk Magazine.
To see more of Alicia's work, visit wolfjawpress.etsy.com