2021 Smoky Hill River Festival Print Introduced

A Kansas City area artist has been selected to design the 2021 Smoky Hill River Festival Print.

According to Salina Arts and Humanities, interdisciplinary artist Rena Detrixhe will take on the project.

Detrixhe grew up in a limestone farmhouse south of Russell, Kansas where her father and mother still live. She credits her artist mother and her father, a musician and retired USDA/Soil Conservation professional, for encouraging her creativity from a young age. Detrixhe holds a BFA in Visual Art with a minor in Art History from the University of Kansas. She also studied in Seoul, South Korea.

In 2020, when Detrixhe first began work on the Festival Print, she was a research resident with The Land Institute in Salina.

To conceptualize and create the 2021 Festival Print, entitled “Smoky Hill Prairie Haunts,” Detrixhe gathered parts of grasses, forbs, and flowers from a remnant prairie along the Smoky Hill River. She then dried and pressed them, in the ancient tradition of plant collecting. Next, the plant specimens were traced onto paper by carefully dusting over each segment with powdered graphite, using a soft brush to render them in silhouette.  Layer by layer, the canvas became filled with a dense mat of the memories of individual plants.

“The 2021 Festival Print is part of a series of work inspired by The Land Institute and the process of looking closely at the prairie ecosystem,” says Detrixhe. “An early project of The Land Institute, carried out by co-founder Wes Jackson and photographer Terry Evans, among others, involved isolating square-meter sections of prairie and meticulously documenting the diversity of plant species within these bounds, to better understand the beautiful and complex diversity of the prairie. This print pays tribute to that body of research, and it is an homage to the prairie as our teacher.”

The 2021 Festival Print was created in the artist’s studio at the Salina Innovation Foundation, formerly the Masonic Temple, and in the field. Detrixhe was deeply appreciative of her time at The Land Institute. “My love and appreciation for the prairie and all plants that nurture and support us and make our lives more beautiful, grew deeper and more expansive from my experience at TLI,” she says.

Detrixhe’s work has been shown nationally and internationally. Recent exhibitions include “Place out of Matter” at the Spencer Brownstone Gallery in New York City and “In Times of Seismic Sorrows” at the Center for Craft in Asheville, NC. Since 2019, Detrixhe’s work has been featured at The Volland Store in Volland, Kansas, the Salina Art Center, and at the Spencer Museum of Art in Lawrence.

Her Red Dirt Rug installation has been created in galleries and museums across the U.S., including at the Salina Innovation Foundation in 2019. In August 2020, her work was featured in a group show at the Baum Gallery at the University of Central Arkansas, called “Threads Through Time.”

The 2021 Festival Print is a limited-edition collection of 250 digital prints made from the original graphite drawing, signed and numbered by the artist. The Festival Print is available for a $100 gift to the River Festival, at the SAH offices at 211 W. Iron Avenue, Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 12n or 1 to 5 p.m., or at riverfestival.com.

A full collection of 40 years of commemorative River Festival Prints is on display at the Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery in Lindsborg through August 8. Gallery hours are Tuesday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. Details of the Festival Print exhibit and the previous Festival Prints for sale there, to benefit the gallery and the River Festival, are at www.sandzen.org.