Kate Krasin (American, 1943–2010) was a master of the silkscreen print. Inspired by Japanese printmaking traditions, she began making silkscreen prints in 1977, rendering the West’s monumental landscapes on an intimate, human scale and creating exquisite studies of the region’s plants and flowers.
A native of Tucumcari, New Mexico, where her family had lived for four generations, Krasin began her formal art training at the University of Texas at Austin and later studied under renowned painter and printmaker Elmer Schooley at New Mexico Highlands University. Following graduate studies at Kansas State University, she returned to New Mexico and settled in Santa Fe, where she also studied the work of fellow Santa Fe woodcut artist Gustave Baumann. Krasin, however, preferred the “dance” of silkscreen: the process of drawing the sketches, cutting the stencils, formulating the colors, printing by hand. She diluted inks and layered colors to create transparent, ethereal beauty.
Her highly refined work proved that silkscreen, or serigraphy, was not just a medium for photo-transfer T-shirts or simple graphic designs in flat colors. For a single print she might use as many as forty successive screens, all cut by hand, to create a detailed, textured work of art.
As Carmen Vendelin, the curator of art at the New Mexico Museum of art, wrote in Kate Krasin: Luminous Prints, “Krasin created a body of work that pushed the technical and aesthetic possibilities of silkscreen printing. Defying expectations that this print medium best employs simple graphic forms and solid colors, her work evolved over twenty years to incorporate translucent, textured layers of color and fine-tuned levels of minute detail.”
Drawn to the southwestern landscape as subject again and again, Krasin felt an affinity for her native New Mexico. “We happen to live in a landscape that is just fraught with color—red rock, turquoise chamisa, pink and maroon earth—it’s everywhere, so that walking here can make me high,” Krasin said. “And in New Mexico there’s a definite ancient feeling to the land, a sense of civilizations that have gone before, a pervasive quality that’s sometimes enough to make my hair stand on end. I want that mystery, as much as I can put it in a straight landscape. I try to make pictures of mystery—not just mountains, but rather the feeling, the meaning, of the Earth.”
Her work is found in many private and public collections, including those of the Roswell Museum and Art Center, the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, the New Mexico State Capitol, and the New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe.
South of Santa Fe, 1977
All images © Kate Krasin Estate