LAKE GEORGE A good hike or camping trip provides an escape from the trappings of everyday life.
The art exhibit in the Courthouse Gallery seeks to capture that ephemeral feeling of wonder and freedom in the wilderness, mingling mysticism with nature in an enveloping installation.
With her ink drawings, watercolor collages and hand-cut, linoleum-printed animals and mountain tops, Brooklyn artist Hilary Lorenz is telling the story of her hikes around the world, from the Adirondacks to the peaks of Tasmania, in a single room.
Titled “Lean to Me: My Own Wilderness Fantasy,” the solo exhibition is her first showing in the Adirondacks.
“I’ve been wanting to show in the Adirondacks for some time because my work is related to hiking, and I do quite a bit of hiking in the Adirondacks,” Lorenz said.
Last year, when she submitted a proposal during the call for entries for the Lake George Arts Project Courthouse Gallery on Canada Street, she was elated to be chosen as one of six for 2015. The exhibit opened last month and will be up through Dec. 18.
On the walls are drawings from heavy ink, framed collage art and painstaking linocut prints made from a manual printing press.
It took about 40 hours to put together on the walls after one year of carving linoleum and printing and cutting pieces from it. It’s all based on hundreds of miles hiked up trails in New York, New Mexico, Colorado, California, Tasmania and Cameroon.
Crawling up the walls are 4,000 printed leaves strung on vines of jute, which is a vegetable fiber that can be spun into a course thread.
The exhibit is similar to one she showed at Wave Hill, New York Public Garden and Cultural Center in the Bronx.
As she carved out the linoleum pieces, Lorenz envisioned every carving stroke like a footstep on a hike or a long-distance trail run.
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In 2005, she was an artist in residence at the Santa Fe Art Institute in New Mexico. She was always a runner and ran on the roads, but in Santa Fe she started backpacking and found a connection with the wilderness that changed her life.
To make the prints, she carves out the areas she wants to keep white from a flat piece of linoleum. She then rolls a layer of ink over the whole plate and puts a piece of paper on top of it. Then it goes through a manual printing press, which looks like two rolling pins on top of one another.
“You roll it and the plate goes right through, and the pressure from that transfers the ink onto the paper,” she said.
She took the linocut mountains and cut them up, then put them back together to create what she calls “a whole new mountain.”
“When I’m building this, it’s all about memory. “l’ll immediately sort of go back to that place,” she said.
The result is like being in the middle of a collage of memories.
There are linocut rabbits, a coyote, moose, birds of prey and other animals in the paper-and-ink landscape.
One piece you won’t find in nature is a unicorn Pegasus flying on one wall — a creature inspired by a memory from a dream.
Especially when she is in the city creating this art, she is going back to her hiking spots in her mind.
“I’m thinking about how much I love being in the mountains and if I create this fantasy around me, on the walls of my apartment or my studio, I’ll make that happen,” Lorenz said.
Since the show was in the Adirondacks, she knew she needed a lean-to for the exhibit, which she drew using a thick black ink, water and a canoe.
“There’s nothing like being the wilderness,” Lorenz said. “It’s meditative. ... When I’m in the wilderness I’m super focused on everything that’s around me.”
This exhibition was funded in part by Lake George Kayak Company and the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency.
Follow Amanda May Metzger on Twitter @AmandaWhistle and read her blog at poststar.com/app/blogs.