Printmaker Martha Martin concludes her Smokies national park residency

Oct. 24, 2013 @ 11:55 PM

Printmaker Martha Martin is artist in residence at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Her stint there began Oct. 4, the fourth day of the federal shutdown. Was she disappointed that the park was closed?

“I can always find something interesting and attractive, no matter what else is going on,” said Martin, whose medium is woodcut relief printing. “I’m always looking at stuff.”

The park is open now, and in the remaining days of her residency, Martin is hiking. “I’m getting around as much as I can,” she said, citing visits to Laurel, Grotto and Abrams falls. “I’ve also been drawing and carving. I haven’t made any prints yet.”

Among Martin’s creations are images of wildlife and landscapes. “My work is specifically focused on tiny little details, things that can be found in a setting like this,” she said. “I like bugs.”

On Saturday, Oct. 26, Martin will demonstrate her printmaking methods in a presentation at Sugarlands Visitor Center. The interactive program begins at 2:30 p.m. Only 20 people can participate, due to the materials involved. Call 436-1265 for details.

“I’m going to pull a print from a board that I carved,” Martin said. “I’m going to talk about the tools that are readily available for people if they’re interested in pursuing this.”

Printmaking is “something anybody can do,” Martin said. “It makes great holiday cards.”

A resident of Philadelphia, Martin began her artistic career as a metalsmith. She took up printmaking and drawing as part of graduate work she recently did at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

She came to the Smokies’ artist-in-residence program via her studies. “The last semester of school, our seminar teacher dared us to apply to an opportunity, and this was attractive to me,” she said. “I’m kind of an outdoors person.”

The program is in its second year. “It’s designed to be an opportunity for artists to come to the park and have a solid chunk of time, four to six weeks, to explore the park and their art,” said Christine Hoyer, the park’s volunteer coordinator.

Participants have included artists who work in painting, photography and even soundscapes. About six artists are chosen per year.

“This year we had more than 60 folks apply,” Hoyer said. “This thing has gone viral. I already have applications for next year.”

The program is supported by Friends of the Smokies in collaboration with Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. After participating artists finish the program, they contribute an artwork to the park.

The next scheduled artist in residence is Laura Deutch, a videographer who also is from Philadelphia. Martin’s residency ends Oct. 29. She sounds wistful when she talks about leaving the Smokies.

“There are so many other places I want to see here,” she said. “I suppose I’ll have to come back.”