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My Story

    As a child, I was always making something. It was fun, but, for a while, that was all. Then in 2nd grade, I remember a particular lesson that inadvertently showed me that art could be more. The lesson itself wasn’t all that important: 2nd graders playing with warm and cool colors. But as I was playing, something clicked for me, and I realized that all the things I was making helped me understand the world and vice versa. From then on, that’s how I approached art; everything and anything could be important.

    So I observed — thought my adolescence and adulthood — exploring photography to capture moments I might later reflect in other diverse mediums. And still I’m finding new connections, places where my bookmaking might better express my natural surroundings or ways my paintings can capture a color I noticed earlier in the day. These dual interests — observation of the natural world and creative expression — have become inseparable. As an educator, I hope to guide my students to that same intersection, where, I find, the most interesting work exists. 

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How I Think
How I think, Puddles - Erica Hutchins.jpg

Erica Hutchins, ...Like Gathering Puddles, 2020.
Watercolor, acrylic paint, ink, vellum, construction paper. Approx. 9" x 12"

 My thought process is like gathering puddles. Each puddle is a different size, an irregular shape. Some may look the same, but each is unique. At times they flow, morph, sometimes grow and even evaporate. Somedays there are enough puddles that I could create a pond. Perhaps one day I will have a lake.

 When this idea originally came to mind, I envisioned puddles as you would see them over pavement after a rain storm. For the background, I used black paper to mimic that vision. 

This “gathering of puddles” is made by pooling various blue hues of watercolor, mixed on tracing paper with some added silver paint, layering each color bit by bit. The puddles lay over one another, as if they were each an individual thought. This layering represents how all these puddles gather together to create this larger body of thought…or even a big idea. 

 To create these puddles, I first painted full sheets of tracing paper. The reaction of water being brushed onto the tracing paper caused the surface to buckled, which then created their own little pools of different shapes and sizes. While waiting for each different layer to dry, I was given enough time for new ideas to emerge…or in this case to add more layers. 

 Each piece was then cut out and then outlined in black to show each conclusive thought. Each piece has been pasted together to create one whole sheet, with many new shapes and layers. 

Personal Art History

  My personal art history is a reflection of just some of the many creative avenues I have walked leading to where I am today. After removing the blue paper band and opening the two flaps that make the cover, reveals 12 pages of a french-flap book design. In various configurations, the flaps overlap with one another as do many of the creative skill sets that I have developed throughout my life. I chose this format for book making has become a creative passion of mine within recent years, and acts as a simple vessel for the contents inside. 

  Once opened, the pages begin some of my earliest memories of finger painting with family; the illustration of adult and child size fingers overlap a yellow painted paper. Lifting those brings forward two pieces of black paper, both with pastel markings showing warm and cool colors; showcasing my a crystalizing moment of art making in my early childhood. Next we find more family influences as I learned how to do traditional crafts and embroidery, along with creating animal sculptures using seed beads. Beyond that, we find two different illustrations of cameras: a color drawing of a “creature camera” that became my first lesson in film photography, and a black and white drawing of a Nikon FG inherited from my mother and used throughout my adolescence and early-adulthood as I learned how to shoot and develop B&W film. Next, a dry-pressed wild flower adhered to the page, showing my early understandings of respectful preservation of nature and my continuing love for wild plants. Mirrored is a shillohette of wild grass used as a direct exposure  to create a cyanotype print; representing the incorporation of natural elements into my photography process and creative practices. Underneath, a section of painted paper from my experimental adventure into painting, a piece of mulberry paper for my exploration into other hand crafted materials, a swatch of canvas for the many years working as an artist assistant, and at the core of this is a piece of my first solo photography exhibition showcard. 

  All these elements have in some way helped shaped the artist that I am today. Though the pages are exclusive to this single book, the series has just begun.

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Erica Hutchins, Personal Art History, 2022.

Card-stock cover, cyanotype processed paper band, acrylic paint, ink, pastel, muslin fabric, bugle seed beads, thread, embroidery floss, color pencil, graphite pencil, dry-pressed wild flower, cyanotype print, mulberry paper, acrylic texture painting, xerox paper collage, duct canvas, exhibition post card, Irish linen thread.

Overall dimensions: 8.5” x 4”

Awards & Scholarships

Pennland Scholarship - Peter Valley School of Craft - 2021

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