Book pages provide the underlying armature for the works of Renée Bott. Her work is based on the minute and detailed lines found in etchings and engravings from the 17th century. She collects her source materials from museums, antique print dealers, and private collections. She photographs the prints and uses photoshop to digitally modify the images, which serve as general outlines for her compositions which she renders with paint and ink upon the surface of the book pages. The horizontal redacting of some of the book text along with the overlay of the image creates a textile, almost tapestry-like sensation even though no actual thread or fabric is involved.
Born in Ann Arbor, Michigan and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, Renée Bott has always made and worked in art. She worked in fine art print publishing for over 30 years. For the past twenty years, she was a founding partner and Master Printer of Paulson Bott Press, a fine print atelier located in Berkeley, California. Here she worked with luminary artists such as Martin Puryear, Kerry James Marshall and Tauba Auerbach. Renée specialized in facilitating the creation of complex and colorful intaglio prints within a traditionally black and white medium. Paulson Bott Press has published over 500 editions, working with many artists. In 2016, the archive of Paulson Bott Press was acquired by the deYoung Museum in San Francisco.
My two paintings: The History of the 20th Century In Landscape 1 & 2 are painted on collaged book pages from The History of the 20th Century. I start by reading the text. Written history is one way to chronicle human endeavors. In his book, Martin Gilbert describes one horrific human act after the next; acts of violence against mankind and our environment. As I read, I white out the text as if to erase those thoughts from my mind yet I commit them to memory, because our history defines who we are today.
These text lined pages act as the armature for my paintings. With human stories concealed beneath opaque lines, I superimpose images of bucolic landscapes based on landscapes found in antique engravings. I offer these images not as a way to forget our history, but as a way to honor the healing power of nature.
In my work, I strive to understand the contrast between the stunning beauty and bounty of this world with the brutality and carelessness of human acts. I look for a future that reveres the beauty of the natural world, and seek to discover a humanity that is in harmony with it.