Rodrick Whetstone is an assistant professor of graphic design at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. He earned his MFA in graphic design from The University of Iowa, 2012. Rodrick is from Belvidere, Illinois but resides in St. Louis, Missouri. He grew up the eldest son of five siblings. His Dad was the first art teacher to show him how to see the world through art. Looking at the world through the exciting lens of art later caused him to look at the artists Rebecca Horn and William Anastasi. They make abstract art through unconventional processes. Rodrick then became fascinated with the production and manipulation of the line.
Rodrick’s work is inspired by the Dada art movement in the early 20th century (1915-1923). If logic can lead to a global war, then art should abandon logic. Dada was very big on the aleatory which means that things are left to chance. While studying this artistic movement and dealing with loss, it led Rodrick to experiment visually with the aleatory.
Therefore, Rodrick created a drawing machine that tracks movement in a circular pattern when is attached to his body. This foreign object extends 2 feet in front of him. The natural movement of his body as he goes through daily life is recorded on this machine’s paper. This opens up an opportunity to talk about the machine and what inspired it to be made.
It is akin to the awkwardness that Black people face every day as we move through life. The drawing machine was built as a response to the loss of control in the artist’s personal life. As the project evolved, it was a way to not only respond to personal loss but as a way to respond to public loss of Black people killed by racist violence. As one that inhabits a large Black body, Rodrick struggles with the grief of the public loss of people who look like him.
The concept of the work are forces that happen upon the paper by the pendulous marking device. The apparatus was created from found parts and junk. It uses a writing utensil as a pendulum in order to make marks onto a page. Instead of having the autonomy to draw, the drawing utensil is tossed to and fro at the whim of forces happening upon it.
Rodrick is currently creating a series of smaller scale 11”x14” drawings using the aforementioned drawing machine. One selected media is gel pen on paper. The other selected media is intaglio printmaking. In intaglio printing, the lines to be printed are etched into a copper plate by means of a cutting tool called a burin. Then the copper plate is dipped into a corrosive acid. The acid deepens the lines for the ink to print on the page.