Interview with Loren Jeffries
Having sent several emails to local artists for an interview, I was able to find one a little closer to home. A practicing artist for over 50 years, Loren Jeffries is a man of many talents having written several books pertaining to history and reflecting his love for Meso America and Native American culture within his woodblock prints. Having been a U of L Alumnus graduating with a Master’s degree in Art history, Jeffries has once again settled back to Louisville, Kentucky after traveling to the west. Jeffries is still an active member of the art and archeology community and travels occasionally to give lectures on his 35 year research project pertaining to Meso-American Codex’s and Fractal Calendars. I was able to personally meet with Jeffries in his dwelling for a formal interview where I was able to view his studio space, previous works, and his current project. His studio space lives in the outer dining room where he has set his supplies, tools, and previous works on display. I approached this space and noticed his in-progress woodblock with a Meso American design and began my interview from this observation. - Noelle Wilcox
Wilcox: “I noticed that you used sharpie marker as an outline for your woodblock drawing, do you use that method for every print you pull?”
Jeffries: “No, not for every print I pull. In this I’m trying to do a lot of tricks where I show my mastery of techniques and virtuosity. I’ve been doing it a long time, if you can cut wood and make wood look soft or smooth and replicate something into that hard surface then you’ve mastered the wood. Here’s an opportunity for me to put a lot of things together and show my skill set.”
Wilcox: What or who are your influences?
Jeffries: “My printmaking influences would be from a Yaley named Henry Schakowsky who taught at U of L. They brought him here from Yale and he brought some other Yale faculty, we had a really good art community. Other than these Yale teachers that I thought were awesome, I really enjoyed Rudy Pozzatti’s work, he was a great influence to me. There’s not too many now, I guess you could say that I was a second generation of this imported skill set- and I guess that has all changed now. For example, I was taught to use a wooden spoon to create my prints at home but now that’s a thing of the past, but that’s the only way I know. Same with drafting pens, they don’t use the same equipment, the way I learned is not what is taught now and I’m in rare company.”
“I’ve been told that my work is strong, that the imagery is strong and if I’m competent about doing a professional job of it, then that makes me satisfied. And you know I can sit down here for hours and be perfectly content, I love the way a sharp chisel feels in the wood and I can just keep cutting. Creation is an inspiration and the world inspires me.”
Jeffries began to show me his publications and pointed out his discoveries and interpretations of ancient artifacts that he studied.
“At times I will go down to the U of L rare editions library, and sit there on a big long table looking over the stacks with a glass sometimes all day, so yeah a lot of research goes into everything I do. Many years of reading and research.”