“Beneath the Surface,” a series of Gyotaku prints by Heather Fortner will grace the walls of the Upstairs Gallery at the Newport Visual Arts Center from March 1 through March 30. Meet the artist at the Opening Reception on March 1 from 5pm to 7pm.
Since 1976, Fortner has been printing and studying with printmakers in both Japan and the US. “Gyotaku is a printmaking technique which uses the body of a fish as the printing plate. Ink is applied to the fish; Asian rice paper laid against the fish receives the inked image in a transfer that replicates the details and texture of the fish in amazing detail. Although not schooled in art, when I saw a gyotaku print of red squirrelfish in Hawaii in 1976, I knew that I had found my medium,” she says. “Gyotaku also offered a valuable life lesson. By being able to express myself artistically through the body of a fish, I discovered that I am instinctively creative. Gyotaku opened the door into my creative world, and I encourage my students to discover and explore their own innate artistry with fish, ink, and paper. I have been teaching workshops in gyotaku since 1987, from Alaska to Hawaii, and now in Toledo, Oregon. The High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon, Seattle Aquarium, NOAA offices in Seattle, The University of Hawaii, Oregon State University and Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Florida have hosted my classes.”
“The world of the sea is a elemental part of my life,” she states. “I authored a book on Hawaii’s edible seaweed (The Limu Eater, © 1978 UH Sea Grant College Program) while earning a degree in Natural Sciences from the University of Hawaii, and spent 25 years of my life working on the water as an officer in the US Merchant Marines. I entered the merchant service as a messman, cleaning tables and washing dishes, and eventually worked my way up to Master (Captain) of seagoing vessels. I was occasionally home ported in Japan, and had the opportunity to visit the studios of gyotaku masters in that country. I returned to Japan in May 2010 for additional study with my gyotaku sensei – Mineo Yamamoto in his International Fish Printing Studio outside Tokyo.”
Fortner’s work has been published and displayed in the US, Canada, Europe, and Japan; prints have been featured recently in books and articles on Nature Printing in both Japan and the US. Now retired from the merchant marine service, she works out of her studio, Orchid Street Studio West in Toledo, with the bounty of the Pacific Ocean as her printing subjects. Additional work can be seen at her website, heatherfortner.com.
“Beneath the Surface” is sponsored by Oregon Coast Council for the Arts in the Upstairs Gallery of the Newport Visual Arts Center at 777 NW Beach Drive on the Nye Beach Turnaround. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 12noon to 4pm or by appointment by calling 541-265-6569.