Artist Statement for Germinal Rhizome Exhibition
The title of the exhibition, Germinal Rhizome refers to a root-like subterranean system (derived from plants) in which a main stem, which is typically horizontal in position, creates both roots below and above the upper surface. This is a basic principle of organization that has been theorized upon by philosophers quite a bit over the last century. Most notably, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari applied this concept to the growth and propagation of human culture and economics in the modern age in their stellar two-volume work Capitalism and Schizophrenia. They describe the phenomenon of the rhizome as defying logical systematic patterns; having no specific beginning or origin, it spreads in a rather nomadic system of growth and development by forming connections between established chains, much like the plant roots from which this system is based. As applied to culture, Deleuze and Guattari explain: In this model, culture spreads like the surface of a body of water, spreading towards available spaces or trickling downwards towards new spaces through fissures and gaps, eroding what is in its way. (1.)
The pieces created for the exhibition at Open Studio are inspired by the inherent conflicts that exist between different systems of organization and development, especially those derived from nature like the rhizome model. The motifs I have printed onto the surfaces of my handmade felts, which depict agricultural patterns, crop circles, and labyrinths among others, represent the human tendency towards organization and our need to control and alter our environments to suit our purposes, whether they be religious, economical, social, etc. Most often these systems humans use to dominate or circumvent the environment are borrowed from visual patterns found in the nature world itself, such as the rhizome, but become even more structured and rigid when utilized and transformed by humanity. I have deliberately chosen these specific, symmetrical patterns for the printed motifs due to both their common application/imposition on fairly untamed natural settings (prairie fields, wilderness, and in some cases, rural farmlands) and their mysterious purposes, which are often of religious or mystical origins, or are unknown, undefined.
I have decided to apply plants and debris into the felts in order to provide a contrast to the rigidity of the applied prints with the intention that they will act in a similar fashion to the rhizome structure. The seedlings function as connecting linear elements between the printed motifs, but at times also serve as agents of chaotic disruption, as their growth overwhelms and breaks apart the existing printed patterns. As they propogate and flourish, the seedlings create new imagery in the process of interacting with and eroding the printed motifs. Although the plants are also intentionally applied in repetitive, methodical patterns, they rarely conform, usually finding ways to break free of my imposed design and thus thwarting my efforts to harness them and bend them completely to my vision. However, the combination of the conscious system of organization with the nomadic, more intuitive rhizome-like system creates a more extemporaneous and serendipitous visual arrangement.
1. Deleuze, Gilles and Felix Guattari. Anti-Oedipus. (Volume I of Capitalism and Schizophrenia) and A Thousand Plateaus (Volume II). Paris: Les Editions de Minuit. 1972 and 1980.
2004 M.F. A., University of Wisconsin-Madison
1997 B.F.A., Herron School of Art
Meredith Setser is and printmaker and textile artist currently employed as an assistant professor of printmaking at the Herron School of Art and Design in Indianapolis. She studied at both Edinboro University in Pennsylvania and Indiana University (IUPUI campus) for her undergraduate studies, earning a BFA in 1997. She also attended graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she completed her MFA degree in 2004. Meredith has taught printmaking courses as an adjunct instructor at both the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Milwaukee School of Art and Design.
Meredith is an active member of the printmaking community and has attended several conferences, including the Southern Graphics Council Conference in Madison, Wisconsin, where she gave a demonstration entitled Printing on Unusual Surfaces. She most recently gave a plaster pronto plate lithography demonstration at the 2008 Mid-America Art conference. Her plaster technique is featured on Friedhard Kiekebens site dedicated for nontoxic printmaking, www.nontoxicprint.com.
Some recent shows include the Qijiang International Print Exhibition in South West China, the 12th Annual Washington Printmakers Small Print Exhibition in Washington, DC, Folly, a solo exhibition at the Basile Gallery in Indianapolis, and Perform/Install III at the South Bend Museum of Art. Along with teaching printmaking, Meredith has given several workshops and demonstrations in the textile medium of felt making across the United States. She currently resides in Indianapolis with her partner George, 3 iguanas, 4 birds, and 9 tortoises. Although she now lives in the great state of Indiana, Meredith was born in Wyandotte, Michigan and spent much of her childhood here. In spite of her busy work schedule, she still finds the time to vacation annually in Rose City, Michigan, and migrates to Detroit several times a year to catch Red Wings hockey at the Joe Louis Arena.