Resume & General Artist's Statement

Erena Rae, Feb. 15, 1941-May 19, 2006



Minnesota native • BFA: University of Kansas 1968. Majors: Drawing (with Robert Sudlow; Richard Wright) and Printmaking (with Lasansky protogé John Talleur) • Additional course work: University of Minnesota, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Purdue University, Rochester Institute of Technology, and various seminars and workshops throughout the USA (drawing with Sue Coe, etc.).

Marriage: Gustav William Friedrich, 1962.

Motherhood: Bruce Gregory Friedrich, 1969.


Art director, graphic designer, commercial illustrator, typographer, calligrapher, copywriter, editor.

1980–99 • Partner/principal in Communication Design (a commercial graphic design studio based in Nebraska and Oklahoma). Abbreviated client list: State Arts Council of Oklahoma, Calligraphy Review Magazine (now Letter Arts Review), International Typeface Corporation, Dorsey Laboratories, National Women’s Studies Association, National Organization for Women (state chapters), Oklahoma Youth Orchestra, University of Oklahoma Marching Band, Plowshares activists (logos, newsletters), etc.

1977–80 • Art Director, BA&A Advertising Agency, Lincoln, Nebraska.

1973–77 • Director of Scientific Illustration and Graphic Design, Medical Illustration Unit, Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine, West Lafayette, Indiana.

My Art:

The diverse forms that my art takes stem from the two different paths my life has taken. My BFA focused on a rigid training in both drawing and printmaking; my 30-year commercial art career in graphic design, scientific and commercial illustration, typography, and hand lettering included both traditional techniques and state-of-the-art technology. Hence, I have a passion for printmaking and printing, and for lettering and typography; as well as for brochure design and the book arts, and for exacting illustration and spontaneous experimentation.

Still, I thought that the computer art that I produced (for my own pleasure and sanity while working for clients) did not qualify as “art”— until the late 1990s when I first saw Barbara Kruger’s powerful prints. It was only then that I stopped trashing my own work (both figuratively and literally) and began to explore juried-exhibition opportunities for my efforts in the “new” medium. The positive reception has emboldened me to develop my own techniques as I seek to use words and images to point out the contrast (and sometimes unresolved tension) in words vs. deeds… the sinister vs. the sublime… traditional mores vs. modern practices.

Most recently, I have been exploring the scanning and manipulation of three-dimensional objects in order to incorporate a view that one does not see in the real world — a view, in fact, that cannot be produced by any other method. The eight hankie prints are a case in point: their pristine delicacy and beautiful handiwork are emphasized and celebrated by their natural-looking “pose,” and this is further reinforced by the introduction of a contrasting (threatening) element in each print. All of the items were scanned and manipulated digitally, and even the old drawing skills came into play — a happy surprise! — in order to make the placement and tweaking surreal yet entirely believable). I must point out that no hankies were harmed in the production of this suite: the rips, piercings, and stains were accomplished digitally, thread-by-thread (and often, pixel-by-pixel).

My Philosophy of Art:

The art that moves me most is art that points out unfair or unethical practices in today’s society — especially practices which have become so routine that either they go unnoticed or they are assumed to be “normal.” My social conscience (the feminist part, at least) was born the moment my first-grade teacher announced that the word he was a neutral pronoun. I sensed right away the implications (and unfairness!) of my little brothers’ getting to own such an important word; and since that time I have noticed again and again that it is a very short — and inevitable — step to go from excluding a whole group of people in word, to excluding them in deed.

Thus, due to a combined interest in language and social issues (plus that ever-vigilant feminist muse), many of my works deal with the dichotomy inherent in words vs. deeds. The so-called “feminine suffix” is a particular thorn (and part of an on-going theme which also sometimes includes, as a taunting and ironic element, the U.S. military slogan that was ubiquitous in recent decades: “Be all that you can be”) because I have such high regard for (and am in awe of) the almighty power of language. It's a scary truth that the more "normal" something seems, the more insidious it can be.

Whatever the method and medium, the challenge remains the same: to try to express ideas through art. I realize, of course, that my efforts cannot even begin to address all forms of social inequities, but I will be happy if my work adds up to even one little stitch in the human-rights quilt.

What is an “Original” Print?

The term original print means that the print itself is the original work: it is not a reproduction of a work in another medium (although images from these sources may be among the components of a computer-generated print). Thus, an offset lithograph or a giclée print of a painting is not an original print, even if it is signed by the artist and limited in number: it is simply an autographed copy of an original work.

A computer-generated digital (and/or inkjet) print, therefore, is an “original print” because each element in the print is photographically and/or digitally created by the artist and manipulated, layer by layer (layers are akin to individual printing plates), in the computer. Along the way, proofs are pulled and states are revised (just as in traditional printmaking), and finally the edition is printed. The prints themselves are the original works; they do not exist in any other form.

On Printmaking

“Digital printmaking is accomplishing what no other movement has ever done before: it is bringing printmaking to the forefront of art.”

— Joann Moser, Senior Curator of Graphic Arts, Smithsonian American Art Museum, and juror of The Boston Printmakers’ 2005 North American Print Biennial (excerpted from Dr. Moser’s lecture at the exhibition opening, 2/13/05).