Fae Kontje-Gibbs, The Order of Chaos, linocut monoprint, 8.5 x 7 inches.


Piece of Work: Fae Kontje-Gibbs

I’m always experimenting. In general, I’m pretty much finding as I go along.

After more than forty years as a printmaking artist, Fae Kontje-Gibbs still wakes up excited to go to work in the morning. “I still am completely fascinated with it. Inspired by it,” the Vineyard Haven–based artist said. “I have not even begun to exhaust the possibilities.”

She was introduced to printmaking in her mid-twenties when fellow Vineyard artist Molly Kahn handed her a pamphlet for the Cape Conservancy. “She had opened to the page on printmaking and she said, ‘Here, this is something you might be interested in,’” Kontje-Gibbs remembered. “And it went from there.”

One day a week she commuted over to the Cape to attend classes in lithography, etching, silk-screening, and various printing techniques. Mostly these days she focuses on monotypes, which create a one-of-a-kind (hence “mono”) print.

The work at left, titled The Order of Chaos, is part of a series that began with lines cut into a linoleum block, a trial-and-error process known as proofing. “Proofing means you carve and then you print and look at what you have and then carve more” until satisfied, she explained. “Then I cut holes in [a stencil] based on what I wanted to have show through the holes from the block underneath.”

When she was ready to print, Kontje-Gibbs coated the linoleum block with blue ink and the stencil with dark gray. She layered the block, stencil, and a piece of paper together and rolled it through the Featherstone Center for the Arts printing press. The final product, the reverse of what was on the block and stencil, bears two tones of blue for the two layers that were given ink.

“When I peeled off the stencil, the design of the stencil was still present where the greater amount of blue ink was still on the block,” she said.

“I’m an experimental process-oriented printmaker,” she said of her work. “I bring what’s more invisible and internal to the plate, and then I start the process of making it visible.”

Fae Kontje-Gibbs’s work can be seen in the summer at the Chilmark Flea Market and at Featherstone’s Flea & Fine Arts Market.