Photographs provide the raw backbone for my mixed-media print installations. I start by cropping, zooming in and re-arranging these photographs—turning them into abstract compositions before transferring them to blocks that are carefully carved and printed. It is through this process that my imagery becomes both more personal to me, while also exploring the contrast between a digital image and a hand-carved print. While these two mediums are incredibly different, I aim to bring them full circle by starting with the digital image and ending with a print installation which, through its repetition and patterns, appears almost digitized once again.
Some of my pieces also incorporate cyanotypes, a photographic printing technique that uses the sun to create images. The merging of these two printing methods—cyanotype and woodcut—allows me to explore printing with varying levels of control. My handwork is very present in the woodcuts, and less so in the cyanotypes.
Repetition also plays a huge role in my pieces. The idea of starting with one or two small compositions, and then printing one-hundred of them, furthers this process of abstraction. I want viewers to feel consumed when looking at the repetition in my installations. No matter where they look—up, down, left, right—these patterns are all they will see. Sewing is incorporated into my work both literally and figuratively. Some of the pieces being visibly stitched through, while others are reminiscent of quilting techniques in their shapes and repetition.
My work is quite process based, usually working with very few plans or end goals. By working loosely and with little planning, the materials I use hold their life and breathability, and they indicate to me when they have reached their state of finality.
Born and raised in Asheville, NC, Emma Morrow Sarver earned her B.F.A. in Printmaking from Guilford College in 2021. Sewing, collage and cyanotype photography expand the woodcut prints that form the basis of Emma’s installation work. Process is an essential part of her work—starting with photographs that she transforms into abstract compositions before transferring to blocks that are carefully carved and printed. It is through this process that Emma explores the contrast between a digital image and a hand-carved print. While these two mediums are incredibly different, Emma brings them full-circle by starting with the digital image and ending with a print installation which, through its repetition and patterns, appears almost digitized once again. Scale allows Emma’s pieces to become reminiscent of brightly colored wallpaper—surrounding those who look at them. The many transitions that Sarver’s work undergoes from original photograph to the final installation is one that both allows room for change, while also holding tight to what originally caught her eye. All of the shapes and patterns in Emma’s prints are objects or places she has seen, some simply more recognizable than others.