Work with Whatchya Got | Michelle Nordmeyer

Medium: Screenprint
Year: 2021
Edition size: 16
Dimensions: 18″ x 18″
Inscriptions: Edition Number (left front), Signature (right front)
Produced in collaboration with Andrew McManus (composer)

Ten x Ten is a collaboration between visual artists and musicians exploring visual and auditory interaction. By challenging artists to conceptualize their work across media, Ten x Ten asks participants to stretch and expand their creative process. Through producing a limited edition compilation and public presentation of the resulting artworks, Ten x Ten documents, celebrates, and promotes Chicago’s artistic community.

This print, this project, this past year…. 

Everything about this print changed from when we first sat down in 2019 at the Sweet Water Foundation until finished in late 2020. We had talked about our work, about disenfranchisement, about building a path within limitations, the hope and belief in a beautiful world. That conversation became a candle in the dark for me, a touchstone transporting me back to the rooted and everyday quality of my work at Sweet Water. Andrew provided some soundtrack for the process, works by Nathalie Joachim and Tyshawn Sorey. Nathalie’s music especially resonated with me. It felt so joyful, powerful, deep, and light. 

Titled ‘Work with Whatchya Got’, the resulting visual piece is a 7-layer screenprint. The images were sourced from direct prints of found objects. I’ve included photos of the original prints, and you can see a loss of detail and subtlety from the original to the screen. Keeping in mind our thoughts on having to work without, I intentionally made some layers hard to print, producing small differences between copies in the edition. This became a lockdown print. The Styrofoam left by a resident artist, from a toy bought to occupy a child, the rhubarb leaf, the grounding quality of gardening while also mimicking the layout of a city – pathways, roadways, airways- highlighting a lung shape (misshape); the crow feather – freedom, sentience, joy, and mourning; the crushed cans and lid, remnants of lives lived, the seal and plaque on a memorial to our everyday; and a modern ‘tin can phone’ with plastic bottles, the fraught and incomplete communication through distance.