Salina Arts and Humanities (SAH) announced Thursday that printing for the 2021 Smoky Hill River Festival has been completed by an artist from Kansas City with works presented nationally and internationally.
Rena Detrixhe created a print titled “Smoky Hill Prairie Haunts,” in which she used the ancient tradition of collecting plants by finding grasses, herbs and flowers in a meadow along the Smoky Hill River, then by drying and squeezing them.
She traced the plant specimens on paper, sprinkling each part with powdered graphite and used a soft brush to create a silhouette. Her process of layering the canvas with various segments filled the room with “memories of individual plants,” the statement said.
Joan Benefiel, Artistic Services Coordinator at SAH, said Detrixhe’s work was particularly unique and differed from any previous prints commissioned for the Festival.
“Not just what it looks like, but its process, not at all engraving or traditional process,” Benefiel said.
Detrixhe began working on Festival Print during her research residency stay at the Land Institute in 2020, and she has divided her time between the artist’s studio at the Salina Innovation Foundation and fieldwork. She said she was inspired by “the process of close scrutiny of the prairie ecosystem,” adding:
“One of the Land Institute’s (TLI) first projects, led by co-founder Wes Jackson and photographer Terry Evans, among others, was to isolate one-square-meter sections of prairie and meticulously document the diversity of plant species. within these limits, in order to better understand the magnificent and complex diversity of the prairie. This print pays homage to this body of research, and it is a tribute to the prairie as our teacher.
Amanda Morris, the office administrator of SAH, said that before artists work on a print in any given year, SAH provides an overview, if needed, of the River Festival and also provides any guidance they need. they might have for that specific festival. There is usually ongoing communication between the artist and SAH while they are creating the print, but for the most part, artists can let their imaginations run wild.
They saw her Red Dirt Rug installation in downtown Salina and connected with Rena through the TLI to get her involved in the project.
Morris said her setup was “absolutely stunning,” and they knew her experience working with natural elements would make for a great room.
“This is one thing that I have heard a lot about from her, how she really fits into the specifics of the site,” Benefiel added. “She really wanted to get stuff from the river, from the park, and use it in the job, which was really unique and cool.”
Detrixhe grew up 68 miles west of Salina on Interstate 70, just south of Russell. She thanks her mother, who was an artist, and her father, who was a musician and professional soil conservationist, for encouraging her creativity. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Arts from the University of Kansas and a minor in Art History.
The 2021 Festival Print is a limited edition collection of 250 digital prints made from the original graphite drawing, signed and numbered by Detrixhe. It is available for a $ 100 gift at the River Festival, at the SAH offices at 211 W. Iron Ave., Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to noon or 1 to 5 p.m., or at riverfestival.com.