Wendy Powell


After many years of doing more traditional graphic design work, I went back to school and earned my Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2015. It was there that I found the freedom to explore working with my hands while engaging with the fundamentals of design. My watermarks evolved as a reaction against the sterile environment of the computer screen and the expectations of perfection that are a part of creating with today’s technology. I needed a more sensual process of working—one that connected my heart, head, and hands, while also serving as a method for expressing my lived experience.

In making watermarks, I submerge large sheets of paper into various sized and shaped containers of dyed water. The process flows organically as a conversation with both the materials and the elements of design (color, form, line, space, size), where my hand is guiding and allowing, but it’s the water that leaves the mark. This imperfect and unpredictable process allows for surprises and is a practice in giving up control and working with the way things are.  For me, the marks become visual representations of a felt experience; and also a bit like a Rorschach test because they can be many different things to the viewer.


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