Stations of the Cross: Art book to be unveiled Friday at open house
When Audrey Falk first picked up her paint brush to begin a series of watercolors portraying the Stations of the Cross, it was a little daunting. She was about to depict one of the core beliefs of Christianity -- the passion and crucifixion of Ch...
When Audrey Falk first picked up her paint brush to begin a series of watercolors portraying the Stations of the Cross, it was a little daunting.
She was about to depict one of the core beliefs of Christianity -- the passion and crucifixion of Christ.
"It's the whole story and it's so profound," she said.
In the end, she let her hand be guided by the story itself. The result was 14 paintings illustrating the journey to the cross in a simple, almost folk-like style, in colors somber yet vivid.
"I just went ahead and drew as honestly as I could," Falk said. "It was about telling the story."
Now the paintings have become the basis for a one-of-a-kind art book, printed by Buffalo Fish Prints of Willmar and hand-bound at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts in Minneapolis.
The book, along with print reproductions and a selection of the original Stations of the Cross paintings, will be featured at an open house from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at Buffalo Fish Fine Art.
It's the first time that the book, which was completed earlier this year, will be publicly shown.
The original paintings also will be the centerpiece of a Lenten service April 12 at Bethel Lutheran Church, followed by a reception for the artist.
The original Stations of the Cross paintings were commissioned in 1998 by Bethel Lutheran Church, where Falk and her husband, Richard, are longtime members. Falk also is on the church's visual arts committee.
The series of paintings was unlike anything she'd done before. Falk's style is flowing, imaginative and saturated with color. For the Stations of the Cross, she found herself concentrating instead on symbols and visual storytelling drawn from among the deepest Christian traditions.
The 14 paintings were completed within less than a year. "It was not at all drudgery. I'd get up in the morning and I'd look forward to it," Falk said. "It was fun once I decided it wasn't about me."
The finished images are 16 by 20 inches. Falk used watercolor, her favorite medium, and vibrant yet restrained colors -- deep purples, oranges and blues. In several of the paintings she employed a marker to create jagged, mosaic-like backgrounds.
"I wanted harsh, angry lines and that's hard to do with a soft brush. It's a pretty harsh story. The lines often can help tell the story," she said.
Last year Falk approached Luke and Alison Geiger, the owners of Buffalo Fish Fine Art, about creating a book using the Stations of the Cross paintings.
The Geigers were eager to get involved.
"We do art reproductions but we've never done a book like this," said Luke Geiger, whose acquaintance with Falk goes back to Willmar Junior High School when he was a student in one of Falk's art classes.
Using a printing process known as giclée, the Geigers reproduced each of the 14 paintings with archival-quality pigments and high-grade paper. They worked with Falk to choose the text and typeface of Bible passages to accompany the images. They deckled the edges of each page by hand.
The completed books -- four of them were made -- are works of art themselves. The Minnesota Center for Book Arts not only bound and covered each of them by hand but designed custom-fit boxes in which the books can be stored and protected. Both the books and the boxes are covered with dark blue silk obtained on a special buying trip to Chicago.
The results "exceeded my expectations," Luke Geiger said. "A lot of it was a collaboration between everybody. It was a lot of fun."
For Falk, the book has been a project that's intensely personal. Not only does it mark her 70th birthday but it also is a legacy for her daughter and son-in-law and their two daughters.
"The decision to do the book was a family thing," she said.
By sharing it with the public, she hopes people will gain a glimpse of how a single concept can inspire a range of artistic expression.
"It's an opportunity to show what can be done," she said. "I'm very happy that people are interested. That's good for the art community and it's good for Buffalo Fish."
The original paintings will continue to be displayed at Bethel Lutheran Church every year for Lent.
Viewers continually react to the visual story they find in the paintings, Falk said. "It was the best decision to be simple and straightforward. I felt it was honest. It was simple illustration. I think they reached people."