Wild AT ART
A TIGHT-KNIT COMMUNITY OF WOMEN ARTISTS THAT SPANS HUNDREDS OF MILES IS PREPARING FOR ITS ANNUAL RENO EXHIBIT
On the freshly inked press in her studio, Katherine Case ran some prints for the upcoming Wild Women Artists show. In one block print, a lone cypress tree on a rocky island is silhouetted in front of a full moon. This print is part of a collaboration with more than 60 artists outside of the Wild Women group and the inspiration for the title and theme of the exhibition—Many Moons.
Kathleen Durham, a longtime member of the Wild Women Artists, explained, “We’ve had challenges within the group where we all have to do something on a certain theme or we’re putting one object together with all of us doing different parts, but we’ve always wanted to do something with the community and get other people involved.”
To help the group meet that goal, Case printed multiple copies of the yellowy full moon, originally a photograph, on her Vandercook printing press. She created a gradient from brownish-orange to golden yellow, giving the moon a dimensional effect. Each of the Wild Women chose five artists to send the full moon print to for them to modify in any way they wanted to. They used processes ranging from collage and cyanotype—a type of 19th-century phototographic process that yields a blue image—to painting and sewing, all very different and extremely fun to see together.Group effort
Members of the Wild Women come from different parts of Northern Nevada and even Truckee, all with very different styles across multiple mediums. They hold an annual fall exhibit in Reno.
In Case’s small studio full of printing equipment, she and Durham talked excitedly about what they and the other women are busy working on.
“Gail [Rappa] is doing a retrospective of her work,” said Case.
“Yes, and Trish [Reynolds] is doing the massive print,” said Durham.
Reynolds is a photographer who lives in Eureka. Inspired by the sizeable exhibition space—the former Gap store in The Summit Reno mall, a larger venue than the group is accustomed to showing in—she plans to exhibit a photographic print of a flower that measures 9 by 13 feet. While her subject matter usually consists of flowers and plants, her finished work is usually more along the lines of framed prints or cards than mural-sized images.
“I’ve been working on a series of pollinators,” Reynolds said. “It’s a big print, and you feel like a bee coming into it to check it out. The stamen of the flower is about 10 inches long.
Rappa, a jewelry artist who lives in Tuscarora, will be showing a retrospective of her sculpture and jewelry, including some of her work with shadowboxes. These pieces often have a narrative aspect to them and include insets or lockets and combine stones, symbols and metals.
Durham creates characters for Underwood, her fictional world of handmade dolls complete with backstories and adventures. During a storytelling session, visitors to the exhibit will meet two new characters this year, retiring tooth fairies Jim and Wally, now wingless and still carrying around a bag of dimes.
Case, one of the newer members of the group, has created a large print inspired by a story about the last dodo bird. The print depicts the bird sleeping among the trees with a sky filled with flying birds and is titled “Bird Dreaming.”
The Wild Women Artists have officially been a cohort since 1995, with membership changing over the years. Originally, the women banded together for economic reasons in order to have the resources to put on a show. They quickly realized the group was valuable to them beyond that. As in a support group, the women comfort, inspire and encourage each other, offering advice and suggestions about artwork and life.
“Another amazing thing about the Wild Women is the geographical diversity and how some of the women live so far out in rural areas,” said Case. “If it weren’t for the Wild Women, we would never see their work.”
Several of the women used similar words to describe the sense of community they feel from being a part of the collective—even despite being hundreds of miles away in some cases. There is a mutual respect and sense of belonging amongst them.
“The Wild Women has been a cohesive thing for me,” said Sidne Teske, from Tuscarora, whose training as an artist has been informal.
“Having a group of women with such different ideas is awesome,” she said. “It’s been a really good education.”
Teske, a landscape artist, will be exhibiting her plein air landscapes, which she created using soft pastels. She’s looking forward to seeing the 60 guest artists’ variations on the full-moon print.
“The variety is incredible,” she said. “It’s unusual for us to invite so many artists to our group project, so I’m really excited about that.”SHOW TIME
This year, the Wild Women’s exhibit is also a benefit for Renown’s Healing Arts Program specifically for breast cancer patients, which is a close cause for some of them. One member and also her sister are breast cancer survivors.
During the exhibition, which coincides with a full moon on Oct. 15, all of the full-moon prints by the 60 guest artists will be on display and for sale at $50 each, with a portion of the proceeds going to Renown’s Healing Arts Program.
What’s amazing about the Wild Women is the community. Together, they seemingly know all of the artists in Nevada.
“To do a project like this really shows how the Wild Women are attached to so many different artists,” Case said, referring to the print collaboration.
While they call themselves the Wild Women Artists—and images of the full moon might invite thoughts of legends, superstitions and mythology to enter the mind—these women aren’t wild in the common usage of the word. It is perhaps summed up best by the quote from Women Who Run With the Wolves that inspired them to name themselves that way: “Within every woman there is a wild and natural creature, a powerful force filled with good instincts, passionate creativity and ageless knowing. Her name is Wild Woman.”
The Wild Women are: Marti Bein, Katherine Case, Susan Church, Kathleen Durham, Gretchen Ericson, Michelle Lassaline, Kristen Frantzen Orr, Barbara Glynn Prodaniuk, Gail Rappa, Trish Reynolds, Sidne Teske, Barbara Uriu and Pat Wallis.