Henrik Drescher workshop at MECA

Posted by on Oct 17, 2014 in Illustration, Maine College of Art | 2 comments

The renowned illustrator Henrik Drescher gave a public lecture last week at the Portland Public Library, followed by a 3-day workshop at Maine College of Art, thanks to stellar advance work by our new Co-Chair of Illustration, Mary Anne Lloyd.

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As a long-time fan of Henrik’s quirky books, what a thrill to meet this charming and well-traveled artist.

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His talk centered around his recent book, China Days, a Visual Journal from China’s Wild West. Henrik’s been living in Dali, Yunnan with his wife/artist Wu Wing Yee for over a decade. In a province that borders Burma, Laos, and Vietnam, they found a quiet refuge, where he created a prolific chronicle of observations.

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He said, “Living in China slowed me down.” The mountains resembled hats, and the food in the markets was startling.

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Mao is a pervasive figurehead, “like Washington is here.” He shared some past work, noting “nothing’s ever finished.”

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He considers his books like punctuation marks, marking his days into chapters, saying “I struggle with what I don’t know to make pictures.” The visceral nature of his work, with scribbles, ink spatters, torn edges, handwriting, collage and overlays, combine for subliminal reactions. Here he maps out the entire history of China on the back of a tiger.

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When asked “who do you follow?” he replied “Wing!” Wu Wing Yee presented her work, which includes sculpture, books, and installations. They are one dynamic duo.

Henrik advised “don’t look too much” and said, “Humor is the ultimate expression.”

He signed books with a pen and a chop. The crowd was packed with MECA students and plenty of adoring illustrators.

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He brought his sharp sense of humor to the illustration department the next day for an ambitious project with our 26 illustration majors: create a monster alphabet book in 3 days. Ready, set, GO!

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Each student had drawn a letter from a hat and shared preliminary sketches with Henrik, who flogged them to get loose, play more with materials, and embrace the flow of pages.

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Henrik and Wing chatted over lunch about Maine and their next travels.

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Meanwhile, faculty on hand trimmed and cut cardboard covers, while students furiously revised ideas.

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Workshop Day 2 brought more progress, students sharing in the frenzy of completion of files. On Day 3, the computer lab was crazy with anxiety, music, and energy. Students swapped files for the correct pagination of signatures.

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Everyone got 30 copies of their pages, and began folding.

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Henrik sketched a title page.

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Quickly colored it digitally….

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Students lined up their stacks of signatures in order.

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They snaked around the wall carefully gathering their sets.

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Henrik demonstrated the coptic stitch.

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Sew, sew, sew!

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Some of us needed help at this point. Henrik has infinite patience! Most students did two signatures, that’s 52 if you’re counting.

Taylor bound her book in record time.

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Henrik led the esprit de corps to new heights with 2014 Monster Mix MECA. Look what an exhausted but giddy bunch we are.

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Bravo, Henrik and Wing, and to all the illo majors on a workshop well made! I’m delighted to add this big treasure to my collection.

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Thanks to my island neighbor, Helen Peck, Henrik and Wing got a taste of Peaks Island, too.

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Fare thee well, new friends! Thanks for rocking our wilds of downeast.

 

 

2 Comments

  1. thanks for that Jamie, MECA is a groovy place , I highly recommend it to prospective students. Wing and I have fond memories of our days there…and the Portland restaurant scene is amazing!

    • Thanks YOU Henrik! Loved you and Wing being in our midst, you fed our souls. Come back anytime you need a salty fix.

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