Edie Overturf is a modern day American printmaker with a long history. The first time I came into contact with her work was last year, in a detached garage in Minnesota. I was in Minnesota for the weekend, but she had been there for years, as a visiting Assistant Professor of Printmaking at the University of Minnesota. With a long list of intructorships, exhibitions, and award under her belt, Overturf’s career has stretched almost 20 years. She began attending Southern Illinois University in 1998 and would graduate in 2003 with a BFA, Magna Cum Laude. She would graduate from California State University with a MFA in Art in 2006. This path of success would only continue from there.
Overturf tends to work within a small but diverse range of printmaking techniques for her works, and also occasionally does sculpture. However, most of her pieces are woodcuts, often combined with intaglio etchings and monotypes. Her latest art series (the ones I saw at the exhibition that night), Tales of the Absolute and Preposterous, was made using mostly a combination of etching and woodcut. Much of her portfolio consists of background color from a limited but notable palette, with dark, heavy lineart from a final layer defining much of the image. It was this style that initially attracted me to Absolute and Preposterous and made the pieces eye catching.
Even in her own About page, Overturf neglects descriptions of herself to focus on what really fascinates her and motivates her work, themes that resonate strongly through Absolute and Preposterous. She discusses her fascination with all the various predictions and prophecies about how the world is going to end, specifically with regards to post WWII American culture. In her About, Overturf discusses the parallels she sees between these prophecies and the escapism she finds present in much of art and literature. She observes that many aren’t asking if the world is going to end, but considering the ideas of when and how. According to Overturf, these people are looking for a reset button, however morbid, on our existence. This is where the parallels to escapism occur to her, and where her work lies. Absolute and Preposterous is dedicated to interweaving these apocalyptic ideas with art, and presenting the many ways the world could end. The imagery consists of scenes of destruction and a ruined earth, but it’s not just an endless void of misery. Notably, one of the pieces depicts a destroyed house and forest, but right there along with it is a woman and child, smiling and healthy. This piece is called Beginnings, and seems to depict what Overturf discusses in her About, a world destroyed but not devoid of hope.
Her website can be found at https://edieoverturf.com/.