Grayson Kent (b. 1974) was born and raised in Inverness, CA, and has worked for the past twenty-eight years as an artist and arborist.
Kent’s art practice started with a coincidental visit to the printmaking facility at UC Santa Cruz. While studying Environmental Sciences, he wandered into the university’s printmaking facility and was immediately intrigued by the machinery, smells, paper, and technical processes. After spending two years at UC Santa Cruz he transferred to College of Marin where he began a dedicated study of printmaking with artist Trune Bykle. Kent started experimenting with etching and his early work referenced his surrounding environment – the thick woods of West Marin, old cars, local history, and the daily scenes from his work as an arborist.
In 1997, Kent was introduced to printmaker Rick Little and started to work in his Point Reyes-based studio. Little became a mentor and encouraged Kent to go back to school at Sonoma State University to further his studies in printmaking and hone his skills.
Once there, Kent began making woodcut prints and especially enjoyed the process of drawing, carving, and inking directly onto the wood. He found his medium with the woodcut technique of printmaking and as he moved away from etching, he maintained his focus on tight, fine lines and strong contrast.
Kent appreciates the similarities between his work as an arborist and an artist – like working with a tree when he is carving the wood surface for a print there are parameters (the board) and one chance for mark making – it’s an irreversible, reductive process. Likewise, with both types of his work, restraint, and precision are necessary.
The non-linear narrative style of Kent’s prints is informed by his appreciation of the work of William Kentridge, Kathe Kollwitz, and imagery from the Ukiyo-e movement, a genre of Japanese art from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century that utilized woodblock prints and painting to depict scenes from history, folk tales, landscapes, and erotica.
Now, through years of experience, Kent has developed his own black and white visual language that employs lines, circles, and voids to create constellations of moments that form his unique narrative. These formal and striking compositions exhibit just how completely he can engage directly with wood to depict both past and personal histories.