» Visual Art

Through a Landscape of Carbon

Artist Statement


Storms Will Come #4 is the fourth in a series of twelve small print/paintings on Formica, created between August and Election Day 2020. A lighthouse holds the promise of guidance and stability in a turbulent world; it is built to withstand assaults. While I was working on this image, with the lighthouse itself in peril, ashes from the California wildfires were falling on my studio skylight. Images of flames and floods came to dominate the series.


Pitch XVII was born from envy. Always true to itself, regardless of the circumstances, the tuning fork became transported into a visual world of smoke, ruin, and desolation. Rather than tranquility and selfsame identity, the Pitch series explores turmoil, the billowing of emotion, a scientific instrument at a loss in a broken world. Pitch XVII is a monoprint, part of a larger series.


Soot and Soul. After the Storm #3: The work of a printmaker moves between the extremes of soot and soul, between the stain of ink and transcendence. The journey is through a landscape of carbon and soot, with the triumphant soul captured in the grime of ink. This work is part of a larger cycle, executed on panels of Formica, combining printmaking techniques and painting.


Lying Awake. First Night evokes the territory of the imagination, when thought is submerged and rendered helpless. When one is surrounded by darkness and silence, the outside world peels away, and vision originates from within. Logic and reason become scaffolding. It is soothing to draw on solid stone when capturing such a nebulous realm. This stone lithograph is the first of a series of seven. There is text included of one of my poems in the background of that print, just as a whisper. The full text is included here for reference:


Harvest Me


When I’m dead or dying,
harvest me.

Like a peasant

that picks the tubers

from a dry patch of land.


Plunder me and give me to the poor.

To the drunks and the addicts

the liver, the kidneys.

Peel back the skin and

gather the tissues.

Scoop out my heart

and collect all my bones.

The lame will be walking

the blind will see.


But don’t touch my soul.

Promise you won’t touch my soul.

I want it set free,

released from its tethers.


By the time that

I am dead or dying

my soul will be ready for flight.


Storms Will Come #11 uses graphite for the candles above water, a most tender medium, and scraping for the submerged part. For the sky and the flood below, I applied tusche, a fatty liquid designed for use on lithographic stone. On Formica, it revolts, separates and fractures, capturing the fragility of life, our disparate fates.


Herlinde Spahr


A native of Belgium, Herlinde Spahr studied Comparative Literature at the University of California Berkeley and learned lithography independently, eventually opening her own studio, Lithium Press in the Bay Area. Her work is included in collections at the Library of Congress (Fine Arts), Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Oakland Museum, Morrison Collection at UC Berkeley, Royal Museum of Antwerp, and other major collections. She has been awarded numerous awards, including a Fulbright grant, and she has published extensively on the nature and philosophy of printmaking.