The beauty of rust

When artist Tiffany Hokanson graduated from Southern Oregon University almost two years ago, she no longer had studio space and access to the university's printmaking presses.

While artists who specialize in drawing or painting can get by working on their kitchen tables, printmakers need costly and heavy printmaking equipment to produce a full range of work.

Fortunately for Hokanson, the Ashland Art Center downtown opened a new Community Print Lab in September 2012 that allows the public to use printing presses and equipment that might be out of reach for most people.

Providing a further boost, the art center chose Hokanson to be its first artist-in-residence, giving her full access to the print lab from January through March.

Her residency is culminating with a show of her new prints at the art center, 357 E. Main St., throughout April. The exhibit will kick off during Ashland's First Friday Art Walk from 5 to 8 p.m. on April 5.

"I'm very grateful to the art center for having the program and for the opportunity to continue working," Hokanson said. "It's hard as an artist when you lose your momentum. It's nice to have that again."

She has used her time at the art center to create intriguingly original abstract prints.

Hokanson started by etching copper plates, coating them with ink, then pressing the copper plates onto paper to create delicate abstract fields of whites, grays and black. Then she placed metal objects on top of the paper, put saltwater on the metal and allowed it to rust.

In some of her prints, ghost-like images of gears and other rusted objects are clearly visible, while in others, the unpredictable rusting has created completely abstract shapes.

"There are varying degrees of brown, orange and earthy tones that I like," she said.

With her residency set to wrap up soon, Hokanson plans to stay involved with the art center by using studio space there and the community presses. The center has traditional gallery space but also working studios where artists can create and display their pieces.

"It's been really rewarding to be exposed to other artists. I had a feeling right away of being part of an artistic community," she said. "It's nice to be able to bounce ideas off people in other studios. After being in the university setting, it was really nice to walk into something like that."

The art center is taking applications now from artists who would like to be the print lab artist-in-residence from July through September.

The chosen artist will get round-the-clock access to the Community Print Lab and must spend a minimum of 40 hours during the three-month residency working on a print body of work to be shown at the end of the residency. Housing is not provided.

For community members interested in using the Community Print Lab, it has intaglio, relief and silk screening capabilities. People can join by the month, by the hour, or take Saturday classes that focus on etching and relief or Tuesday classes on silk screen printing.

In addition to the print lab, the art center has a Community Clay Studio, which people can use by the hour or the month.

The art center also has a host of art classes in various disciplines.

For more information on the artist-in-residence program, the Community Print Lab and Community Clay Studio and various classes, visit or call 541-482-2772.

Reach reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-479-8199 or

Share This Story