Landing the big show

"[Within printmaking] there are so many techniques to explore and each encompasses its own set of rules within the process," says Schalk, whose medium of choice is linoleum relief because the artist "can't instantly manipulate the piece to achieve the desired effect but instead has to come up with a game plan that will hopefully have a positive end result."

Before breaking his back in a four-wheeler accident in 2001, Brant Schalk was a skateboarder. “I would try a trick over and over until I landed it,” he says. “And printmaking demands the same level of patience and process, if not more. In a way, printmaking has filled the hole that was left when I could no longer skateboard.”

In 2009 Schalk was working at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and taking some printmaking courses on the side. As he began accumulating pieces, he decided he wanted to have his own art show and that enrolling in UAF’s Bachelor of Fine Arts program was the best way to accomplish this goal.

“I was so inspired by the student shows that were on display at the time,” he says, “and realized that the BFA program would be a perfect platform for me to express my creativity and create a body of work I could be proud of.”

Earning his degree was a long-term goal, especially coupled with his full-time job as an IT technician in the university’s eLearning & Distance Education department. Schalk mastered time management and received constant encouragement from his advisory committee. He knew his persistence would eventually turn into the art show he’d been envisioning.

Nights, weekends and sometimes lunch breaks were spent in the print studio on campus. Beach House was usually blaring in the background, and occasionally a documentary was playing in the corner. Thousands of hours were spent there as Schalk worked on his 37-piece show, but he didn’t mind one bit.

“There is a large north-facing window that provides a great view of the hills surrounding Fairbanks,” he says. “When I needed a break I would just take a couple minutes to admire how the light reflects off of the hills.”

In April, everything came together. “Intrinsic Value” was featured in the University Art Gallery. More than 75 people poured through the doors during the opening reception, and hundreds more visited throughout the 12-day show.

“That day was so gratifying and I am proud to have been able to share it with friends, family and our community,” he says.

Learn more about Schalk’s work, including step-by-step pictures of his process, on his blog: https://brantprint.community.uaf.edu/

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