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Art Beat
A weekly look at creativity, arts, and culture in southwest Michigan, hosted by Zinta Aistars.Fridays in Morning Edition at 7:50am and at 4:20pm during All Things Considered.

Art Beat: Carving out a niche in the art world

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Tamara Hirzel
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As a child, Tamara Hirzel wandered the 40 acres of wilderness and countryside that her parents owned. Nature was a companion and inspiration – and it remains so to this day. 

Hirzel learned about printmaking at the Maine College of Art but returned to her home state of Michigan to further pursue her chosen art form. She creates original linocuts, woodblocks and monotypes. Each block is carved, inked and rolled through a manual printing press with a piece of paper. She repeats this process many times to create a multicolored, relief print. The resulting images are of the creatures and nature scenes she has loved all her life.

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A conversation with Tamara Hirzel.

“I got into [printmaking] through several passes,” Hirzel says. “I enjoy art a lot and have done it a lot growing up and as an adult. But my first exposure to printmaking was in high school. It was just the basic linoleum block carving and printing, which is what I do now. I was exposed to other things in high school like screen-printing and etching, but I really liked the carving.”

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Credit Tamara Hirzel
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One of Hirzel's handmade prints

Hirzel’s colorful prints most often portray wildlife, flora and fauna—soaring treetops, turtles diving through ripples of water, butterflies perched on blossoms, songbirds singing into the sun.

“Nature is a delight and inspiration,” says Hirzel. “Marveling at its details expands my awareness of the larger world. There is much that cannot be seen. This additional layer of experience is what I want to share in my art.”

Hirzel credits her experience in an artist residency at the Kalamazoo Institute of Art for further developing her skills.

“It was a wonderful opportunity to set my own goals,” Hirzel says. “This time was laid out before me that I could explore and really focus on printmaking. The KIA is a wonderful place to learn any kind of art, really, and to be immersed in that community, and the printmaking studio was no exception.”

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