A Passion for Printmaking Meet Artist Janice McCoy

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For local artist Janice McCoy, making art is as necessary and natural as breathing or drinking water. She loves to draw and paint but works primarily in linoleum printmaking. “I’ve loved making things since early in my childhood,” she shares. Her fondest memories are of drawing in kindergarten and different elementary school art class projects. She also took art classes in middle school and high school but was never really encouraged to look at art as a viable career option.

Linoleum printing (or linocut) is a relief printmaking technique in which you plan and carve out an image, McCoy explains. “The ink is then rolled onto that carving and you can then create multiple impressions of that image. It’s like a large stamp.” Because she was in the education program in college, she had to learn how to work with many different art mediums. “After taking a printmaking course, I was hooked,” she says. “I still love painting, but printmaking is just such a cool process. I love the idea of multiples and the potential for experimentation with ink, papers and layers.”

“I believe art is a way to work through and process your experiences and share them with the world, if you choose.”

McCoy grew up in the small town of Leonard in northern Oakland County. She moved to Flint to attend the University of Michigan-Flint and graduated in 2018. “I originally went to college to study biology,” she shares. But after taking a fine art class, she decided to pursue an art minor, which turned into two art degrees and a minor in art history. “Making art has always been a major part of my identity,” she says, “and it was life-changing when I finally acknowledged and embraced that. It’s hard to imagine my life without art.”

 

 

One attractive aspect of printmaking as an art medium is its affordability. “You can sell prints at a much lower price point than paintings,” she shares, adding that much of the history of printmaking is based around the idea that art should be affordable for everyone, not just wealthy people. Printmaking has also had a considerable role in spreading ideas related to social justice and equality.

Much of McCoy’s art builds on natural elements, flora and fauna, which she uses as visual symbols to communicate ideas related to her life and her experiences. “I try to create broad and open narratives, some of which can be a little odd or disturbing to look at,” she states, “but ultimately, I want to capture the viewer’s attention and make them think a little and hopefully find some common ground to identify with what I’ve created.”

McCoy is still working on figuring out what she wants to express through her artwork. “It can be terrifying to admit that you have uncertainty concerning the way you’re going,” she admits. “But it’s also been very liberating because I have had the opportunity to try different things, really dig in deep to learn about artists I like and become more heavily involved with Flint’s artistic community. It’s been a rich experience that I know will serve me going forward.”

Enjoying a career born of her love for art, McCoy is the gallery assistant and programs coordinator at the Mott Warsh Gallery in Downtown Flint. She is also vice president of the board of directors at Buckham Gallery/Buckham Fine Arts Project. In addition, she teaches occasionally at the Art School at the Flint Institute of Arts. The artist has shown her work around the state, including Pontiac and Detroit, and her art is regularly on display at Buckham Gallery.

“For a city of its size, Flint has so many places to view great works of art and be involved in making or learning about art,” McCoy notes. “If you are an artist or if you just have an interest in art, I encourage and challenge you to seek out all of the art institutions in your community and support them and become more involved. You’ll learn some cool stuff, you’ll see unexpected things, and you’ll meet some interesting people.”

What does art mean to McCoy? “I think that at our core, we are all naturally creative beings,” she says. “I believe art is a way to work through and process your experiences and share them with the world, if you choose.”

To learn more about relief printmaking, McCoy is teaching a class at FIA on Wednesday nights from 6-9pm, September 7 through November 9. To register, visit flintarts.org/learn/news.

Through September 17, McCoy’s work is on view at Buckham Gallery along with many other local artists for the exhibit entitled, “CAUTION: May Contain Nudity. Recent Works by Donovan Entrekin & Friends.” For more information, visit buckhamgallery.org. You can follow her on Instagram @janiceemccoy.

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