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Former SD43 art teacher shows his woodcut prints in new gallery exhibit

Woodcut printmaking is a traditional art that dates back thousands of years.

A former art teacher with School District 43 will have his first solo exhibit at Place des Arts this month.

Rick Herdman, a graduate of Terry Fox secondary who taught at Fox, Pinetree and Heritage Woods high schools, will display about 20 woodcut prints in the Coquitlam facility, starting Jan. 22.

Titled Into the Woods: BC Nature in Woodcut, the show includes pieces made over the past two years featuring West Coast imagery — specifically forests and animals.

For woodcut printmaking, a technique that dates back at least 1,000 years, Herdman carves his scenes backwards into the surface of a block of wood, typically maple or poplar.

The carving leaves the printing parts level to the surface with the non-printing parts removed; that is, the sections that Herdman cuts away don’t carry the ink.

Herdman got hooked on the medium after taking a survey course at Capilano University. “I just lived in that art room,” he remembered. “I slept there so I could work all night.”

Herdman later went on to study at Emily Carr University of Art + Design and UBC, where he earned his BFA in printmaking and sculpting (he also has his bachelor of education degree from UBC).

Printmaking, he said, “is really a working man’s art,” and he enjoys finding the flaws that his plates create on a canvas. “I’m not trying to do it perfectly. I like the variety it provides,” he said.

Today, his prints can be seen at CityScape Community ArtSpace in North Vancouver, where he plans another exhibit this summer.

Still, his woodcut printmaking came before the global pandemic hit. Now, he’s focusing his art on another traditional medium: encaustic work that involves wax and feathers.

• The opening for Rick Herdman’s exhibit at Place des Arts (1120 Brunette Ave., Coquitlam) is on Jan. 22. To view his art in the Mezzanine Gallery, book a time by calling 604-664-1636, ext. 0, to adhere to social distancing guidelines. The show ends March 18. Also opening Jan. 22 are Coquitlam Heritage Society’s Capturing Moments, and Laura Clark’s Remnants.