An interview with the artist from ‘The History of Nothing’

There was a relief print exhibit at the Hugh McPeck Gallery from Aug. 5-28 titled “The History of Nothing.” The artist, Levi Werner, is a recent UAA graduate with a bachelor of fine art, or BFA, in printmaking. The images in the exhibition were bold, created in black and white, but the concept was more complicated than his minimal color palette.

Werner’s work for “The History of Nothing” was made up of relief prints, an image that has raised edged surfaces that are then inked and transferred to paper, like a giant stamp.

“Participator #3 (The Internet)” 2019. Artwork courtesy of Levi Werner.

“I’m curious how mythologies are created. It was my intention with this exhibit to create my own sort of mythos around the work,” Werner said.

Werner incorporated pieces of everyday life into his artwork as well. One of his pieces titled “The Spectator” featured real people merged into the piece. He asked his Instagram followers to send him photos of themselves that he could integrate into his work.

“The Spectator.” Artwork courtesy of Levi Werner.

“I’m also fascinated by the relationship that artwork can have to the audience, so I make a lot of references to people looking at or reacting to spectacles in my work. That’s basically the conceptual basis of the piece ‘The Spectator,’Werner said.

Werner stated on his professional website that his work is partly influenced by bands from the 1990s. He says that band album art, particularly “Appetite for Destruction” by Guns and Roses had a hand in producing his current style.

“I was 8 or 9 when I first saw that album cover, and it blew me away. This type of style definitely influenced the work I create because it was super solid both technically and conceptually, both things I try to bring to my work because I want to create work that has staying power in people’s minds,” Werner said.

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Relief printmaking cuts away to the essence of what Werner was trying to express in his creative communication to the viewer.

“Participator #4 (Big Chonk)” 2019. Artwork courtesy of Levi Werner.

“When conceptualizing for a relief print, I have to think of ways to convert my ideas of objects and subjects into more of a symbolic representation of the image, because relief [printing] doesn’t always allow for a great level of detail. There is a limit to the number of marks I can make because this process is subtractive by nature,” Werner said.

Werner has been working with printmaking since 2015. His work is a combination of drawing and printmaking, allowing him a greater depth of creative expanse, according to his website. He plans to work with concise social commentary as a future direction of his work.

To view Werner’s current and past work, visit his official website at leviwerner.com.