Isca Greenfield-Sanders Captures Summer Days and the Beauty of Nostalgia

by M. OSBERG | February, 2016

Isca Greenfield-Sanders’ prints and paintings are intended to mimic the fuzzy and often distorted logic of nostalgia. Her works encapsulate the effect of recalling a memory over and over; with time, we gradually forget details, only remembering the strongest colors, lights, shapes, and feelings. This act of repetition and the subtle variation that ensues, makes the artist’s practice perfectly aligned with printmaking.

Greenfield-Sanders has crafted a meticulous process to create her works, adding color and light to other people’s memories. Since finishing degrees in math and fine arts over 15 years ago, she has focused her craft on specific form of image-making, which seamlessly melds photography and painting. She begins by collecting other people’s old photographs—often scenes of American leisure from the 1950s and ‘60s—from varied sources like eBay or yard sales. She scans the images, edits, and prints them. The figurative elements of the photographs undergo sweeps of abstraction as she then adds layers watercolor, pencil or oil, and cut-outs to the original photographs, resulting in dreamy collages that waver in and out of recognizable detail. Since 2006, Greenfield-Sanders has collaborated with Paulson Bott Press to create 21 etchings—prints that translate her assiduous process into hazy intaglio plates.

Printmaking is a natural match for Greenfield-Sanders’s particular approach. Many of the images she and the press have co-produced utilize aquatint and photogravure. While aquatint involves creating a plate and adding washes of luminous, ethereal color, photogravure reproduces images from film negatives—producing clean, realistic lines much like the ones she superimposes onto her paintings. And while many of the images Greenfield-Sanders chooses (mountain vacations, beaches, children) portray an idealized sense of American life she has an eye for imperfect, off-kilter reproduction. Greenfield-Sanders works excel in that they are founded upon cast-off images that are fleck with flaws that rarely exist in modern-day digital photography. Her works take full advantage of the beautiful mishaps of manual processes, ultimately celebrating the unique abilities of the artist’s hand.