Todd Freeman

photo by Ryan Greaves

photo by Issue-Press

Back in Feb­ru­ary I was invited to par­tic­i­pate in Cabin-Time, a roam­ing art res­i­dency that brought myself and 11 other cre­atives to Wilder­ness State Park, at the very north­ern tip of Michigan’s lower penin­sula. From Feb 2nd-8th, we made work, explored snow-logged for­est trails and shared sto­ries in a 1920s built bunkhouse. I devel­oped a heavy fas­ci­na­tion with the array of fan­tas­tic ice crys­tal forms through­out the park, unique to the extreme and uni­formly cold con­di­tions of north­ern Michi­gan win­ter. These sprawl­ing, del­i­cate pat­terns and struc­tures lead me to cre­ate a series of frost draw­ings, sev­eral of which became edi­tioned as Riso­graph prints through Issue Press.

An exhi­bi­tion of our group’s work opened March 22nd at Craft House in Grand Rapids, fea­tur­ing pho­tos, arti­facts, draw­ings and other doc­u­men­ta­tion from this incred­i­ble project. Michi­gan based film­maker Car­son Davis Brown was along for the trip as well, and cre­ated a gor­geous mini-documentary of our Cabin-Time: Wilder­ness trip. The Cabin-Time show at Craft House runs through April 4th, and fea­tures work by Car­son Davis Brown, Sarah Bur­wash, Kris­ten Degree, Amy Fla­herty Todd Free­man, Ryan Greaves, Geoff Hol­stad, Mar­tyna Szczesna, Ali Reid, Mary Roth­lis­berger, Zach See, and Nick Stockton.


Here’s a sneak peek of a new draw­ing from Wild­lands, my upcom­ing solo exhi­bi­tion at Illi­nois Wesleyan’s Ames School of Art. The show opens on Sep­tem­ber 6th, and will fea­ture a mix of old and new prints and draw­ings. This hunt­ing blind is the first in a new series of water­color draw­ings cov­er­ing the archi­tec­ture and craft of the back­woods. I love how many of these makeshift spaces use mate­ri­als from their envi­ron­ment in an attempt to blend in– but instead cre­ate a rather for­eign and jar­ring man­made pres­ence in the landscape.


Gather is my first col­lec­tion of draw­ings, and was pub­lished by Issue Press in May 2011. I often find myself mak­ing tiny, repet­i­tive marks in my sketch­book, and soon those exer­cises became draw­ings of nets. With min­i­mal research, I quickly dis­cov­ered the fas­ci­nat­ing array of nets that existed across many dif­fer­ent cul­tures, indus­tries and appli­ca­tions. Gather con­tains 19 dif­fer­ent net draw­ings, cre­ated from my orig­i­nal Mole­sk­ine sketch­book pages in crisp, Riso­graph reproductions.

I’m incred­i­bly happy with how the book turned out, I’m eager to work on some other small press projects soon. Oth­ers seem to like it too– thanks so much Meat Haus & Fecal Face !

You can pick up a copy direct from Issue-Press, or any of these other fine stockists:

Mis­cel­lany // Grand Rapids

Printed Mat­ter // NYC

Quimby’s // Chicago

The Spar­rows // Grand Rapids

The Owlmen of Mawnan

The Owl­men of Maw­nan
Hand­col­ored cop­per etch­ing on paper

From the group exhi­bi­tion ‘As It Was Before’, now on dis­play at Gallery Hijinks

A being seen near Corn­wall in Great Britain in the 1970s, the Owl­man was described as a grey winged humanoid with red glow­ing eyes. Two girls camp­ing by the Maw­nan Church were the first to describe the beast, which was said to cry out in a hiss­ing call before fly­ing straight up and into the night sky. The being appeared in and around Corn­wall a hand­ful of times over the fol­low­ing years, each time leav­ing wit­nesses strug­gling to com­pre­hend what they had seen. Some main­tained the strange crea­ture could only have come from another dimen­sion, a super­nat­ural angle sup­ported by the sup­posed exis­tance of pow­er­ful Ley Lines in the region.

I’ve wanted to do a print about this story for a long time, as I’ve always had this juve­nile need to see stuff like this for myself. Some­thing about this story and the sim­i­lar Moth­man leg­end from the US always ter­ri­fied me grow­ing up. The eye­wit­ness descrip­tions were so spe­cific, yet told of some­thing hor­ri­fy­ing and unreal, and sim­ply couldn’t be any­thing but what the wit­nesses described.

The Ley Lines

The Ley Lines’, pre­view from ‘As It Was Before’
Graphite on book page.

‘As It Was Before’
Todd Free­man, Mar­tin Machado and Alek­san­dra Zee
Opens Jan­u­ary 8th at Gallery Hijinks, 2309 Bryant, San Fran­cisco, CA

A selec­tion of 18th cen­tury engrav­ings from Nozeman’s Ned­er­land­sche Voge­len. Like so many other Euro­pean nat­u­ral­ists of the era, Nozeman’s prints are dif­fi­cult to see repro­duced as a proper vol­ume, and are instead rel­e­gated to antique deal­ers and auc­tion houses. Cor­nelius Nozeman’s doc­u­men­ta­tion of Euro­pean birds pre-dated Audobon’s efforts by about 50 years, but share Audobon’s mas­ter­ful detail, con­trol and design. After his death in 1786, Nozeman’s work was then con­tin­ued on by Mar­t­i­nus Hout­tuyn. A com­pre­hen­sive guide to the birds of the Nether­lands was com­pleted around 1829. The prints here date roughly from 1770 to 1829.

18th cen­tury bird engrav­ings from Cor­nelius Nozeman’s clas­sic Ned­er­land­sche Vogelen.

I’ve been dig­ging for more Hum­boldt stuff, found these 19th cen­tury com­par­a­tive ref­er­ence maps via the superb

“Everything has been cre­ated out of sea-mucous, for love arises from the foam”- Lorenz Oken

Lorenz Oken (1779–1851) has long been one of my sin­gle favorite image­mak­ers. A ded­i­cated sci­en­tist of nat­ural his­tory and med­i­cine, Oken also pro­duced hun­dreds, if not thou­sands of immac­u­lately ren­dered engrav­ings. While many sub­jects were faith­ful to their real­life coun­ter­parts, many were cre­ated only from descrip­tions and second-hand mem­ory, allow­ing for lots of charis­matic rein­ter­pre­ta­tions. His five tiers of lifeforms:

1. Der­ma­to­zoa, or inver­te­brates
2. Glos­so­zoa, or fish, those ani­mals in which a true tongue makes, for the first time, its appear­ance
3. Rhi­no­zoa, or rep­tiles, in which the nose opens for the first time into the mouth and inhales air
4. Oto­zoa, or birds, in which the ear for the first time opens exter­nally
5. Oph­thal­mo­zoa, or mam­mals, in which all the organs of sense are present and complete

Although some of Oken’s cat­e­gor­i­cal group­ings got pretty wild, many of his ideas on nat­ural his­tory tax­on­omy were incred­i­bly solid and were pre­cur­sors to mod­ern bio­log­i­cal the­o­ries– notably his insis­tence on a ‘sim­ple polyp’ being a base-form for all life. I haven’t been able to find a lot of infor­ma­tion about his seven vol­ume work “All­ge­meine Naturgeschichte für alle Stände”, but given the scope of that project I think there were prob­a­bly sev­eral unnamed engravers work­ing on it. The images here are all cred­ited to ‘Oken’ or ‘Oken­fuss’ (his actual name), and are very in keep­ing with the tight style of the time. Hope­fully, some pow­er­house pub­lisher like Taschen can make a gor­geous cof­fee table book some­day, until then I’m left scour­ing Euro­pean print dealer list­ings on ebay.

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