By DARLA MCCAMMON
Lakeland Art Association
WARSAW — What is batik? I will explain shortly, but If you want to see some beautiful batik art work in person, visit the Warsaw City Hall Art Gallery and enjoy the collection of local art teacher Sherri Johnson. Batik is an art form but some consider it more a craft. You only have to view Johnson’s work to know it is truly art. Using wax and dye on cloth, people have been decorating cloth to make batik for centuries.
To make batik, certain areas of the cloth are blocked by brushing hot wax over them to prevent absorption of dye to those areas. The piece is then dyed with the selected color. Next the piece has a similar procedure followed with more wax and different dye colors. This continues until the artist is satisfied with the resulting colors and effects. In the last process, the wax is removed and the cloth is ready for wearing, showing or as in this collection mounting to be used as beautiful wall pieces.
Johnson explains this exhibit: “The majority of the exhibit has a biking theme and a summer feel. I am a cycling fanatic and outdoor enthusiast and this is the main influence for this body of work.”
I told Mayor Thallemer when he stopped to appreciate the new exhibit that we needed a flowery, lighthearted and beautiful exhibit to help us endure this frigid weather. If you want to escape the doldrums, come see it.
Modern methods of batik have given artists more latitude because of new tools for waxing, types of etching, use of stencils, a process called discharge dyeing, and even recipes for using wax with different resist values. Newer techniques include using silk, leather, wool and even paper for batik. Some of Johnsons’ pieces even include cleverly placed embroidery stitches.
Johnson continues with a bit of biographical information. “My career as an art teacher for Warsaw Community Schools has allowed me to have the summers off and the opportunity to pursue the activities I love.
My art experience is quite diverse as it includes painting, crafting, wall mural work, furniture and faux finish, set and floral design. As with most artists, I have benefited by being flexible and do custom work. I was introduced to the technique of batik by Prof Steve Batzka while a student at Manchester College (now Manchester University). I graduated in 1982 with a major in secondary art and a physical education minor. Then due to the demands of a young family and my teaching career, the batik process requiring hot wax and permanent dye was not feasible, I eventually picked it up again, 30 years later.”
Johnson’s husband Jeff, works at Creighton Brothers and is on the board of zoning appeals. The couple enjoy their four children. Erin Anglin, Alyssa Moore, Josh Johnson and Carli Kaiser who, with three grandchildren, reside in Kosciusko County. This exhibit will only be available until early February so take advantage and visit it soon. City Hall is open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Upcoming and Current Events:
- January exhibit by Sherrie Johnson at Warsaw City Hall!
- The entire month of January into early February, Honeywell Art Gallery in Wabash is featuring the art of famous cartoons.
- Coming February top students from Grace College return to Warsaw City Hall with winning work.
For more information on topics in this column, please contact Darla McCammon at [email protected] or (574) 527-4044. Older columns at www.darlamc.com