URI art student Lucas Hearne wins international printmaking award

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KINGSTON, R.I., Feb. 11, 2015 – Prints are usually flat, but University of Rhode Island art student Lucas Hearne has found a way to turn them into delicate wood sculptures.

His work is so unique it won a major award from The Print Center, a Philadelphia-based art organization that promotes printmaking throughout the world.

Hearne ’15, of Wakefield, was among 11 finalists selected from 460 artists worldwide in the center’s 89th annual international competition. He was the only Rhode Islander to win and one of only four New England artists to make the cut.

Starting in April, images of his work will be shown online, along with information about his studies at URI and his artist statement. He’ll find out in a few weeks if he’s selected for a solo show at the center.

“I was really surprised and excited to get this award,” says Hearne, who is pursuing his bachelor of fine arts in studio art. “It’s nice to be recognized for something I feel passionate about.”

His work resembles wood sculptures, but is really hollow paper with printed wood grains. He got the idea to do three-dimensional work after getting frustrated with flat surfaces in a printmaking class.

“I had always liked sculpture, and I couldn’t come up with an image on flat paper that was sentimental enough,” he says. “So I started experimenting with paper objects and prints.”

First, he cuts the object from paper to make a model. “I pretty much just map it out on paper,” he says. Then he uses pieces of Douglas fir to mimic the grains of the wood, taking great pains to brush the wood’s surface to bring out its character. He makes prints directly off the wood.

“I cut and fold and paste to make sure every piece fits together perfectly,” he says. “This is a very tedious process that can take days, if not an entire semester. It has to be exact.”

The result is breathtaking objects that convey beauty, precision and craftsmanship. Hearne says his art “illustrates the relationship between an object and its maker.”

“People in today’s culture are out of touch with creating things,” he says. “Everything’s manufactured, even meals. You come home and take something out of the freezer and put it in a microwave. My work is not just about the finished piece, but also the process of crafting it, from start to finish.”

Hearne started drawing as a little boy in Wakefield, mostly Japanese cartoons and graffiti. He was a skateboarder and learned carpentry skills building his own ramps and rails.

After graduating from the Community College of Rhode Island, he transferred to URI in the fall of 2013 to pursue an art degree. “It’s been a great experience,” he says. “The professors are inspiring, and it’s good to be in a group of peers excited to be working in art.”

His pieces have been exhibited at URI and the Hera Gallery in Wakefield. After graduating in the spring, he might take some time off before pursuing graduate studies in art.

“Art used to be just an outlet for me,” he says. “Now it’s a lifelong commitment.”

Gary Richman, a professor of printmaking and drawing at URI, says it quickly became apparent to him that Lucas is a sculptor who found a way to make three-dimensional art from flat paper.

“I’m very happy he won the award,” says Richman. “He deserves the award. He’s a very hard worker.”

And, he says, an artist.

Pictured above:

Lucas Hearne ’15, of Wakefield.

Photo by Casey Kelly of The Good 5 Cent Cigar.

Images of Hearne’s work. Photos by Lucas Hearne.