Alan Larkin received his BA in art from Carleton College in Northfield Minnesota in 1975 and his MFA in printmaking from the Pennsylvania State University in 1977. Though recently retired, he taught drawing and printmaking for almost forty years at Indiana University South Bend. He has won many prizes in regional, national and international competitions for his artwork, including the prestigious Founder’s Award in the 2016 Pastel 100 Competition sponsored by the Pastel Journal and the Best of Show Award at the 75th and 91st Annual Hoosier Salon Exhibition in Indianapolis. His works are in numerous private collections including the corporate collections of Pillsbury, NIPSCO, and Lincoln Life Insurance Companies.
Art should engage people’s interest both immediately and over time. When we stand in front of something it is often because it calls to us from across the room, but when we return to it we should discover something new. Objects that can have this power are not accidents. They are made by thinking people who learn how to connect their intellect with their emotions. While it is not really a science, it’s not a turn-off-the-brain-and-let’s-go type of activity either. It can be discussed and understood in a number of different ways: as a design in terms of its color, balance and movement, as a craft, in terms of its mastery, or even as a story, in terms of its emotional impact or its capacity to give us insight. Though future generations will undoubtedly find our contemporary parlance quaint, it is neither wholly “right-brained” nor “left-brained”. It is, rather, whole-brained, made by complete people for complete people.
I make art in order to create beauty. It’s important to say that up front, because this is not so for all art or all artists. Because I also like to draw and paint people and things I have an additional tool at my disposal, the symbolic nature of the subject. Everything that has a name has an association. This makes me a story teller. To keep my stories more unique I try to avoid the automatic associations, things that are really sweet (kitties! kids!) or that are in general use as symbols of beauty (roses!), but if they do work their way into my pictures I try to search for something in them that transcends the obvious.
I have been making a lot of etchings lately. At the end of the day it’s not all about the money. The small size and lower price of the print makes it a more democratic medium, and on the perfectly selfish side it’s also possible to work through more ideas and more experimental ideas. My etchings are small and are executed with 000 needles, often under a microscope, drawn on copper plates and submerged in a Ferric Chloride bath. The most intricate work can go into the bath multiple times. The effort to bring them to perfection can take weeks, but then they are so unique, and the experience of making them can be mesmerizing. The work can be as challenging as the New York Times Saturday crossword puzzle, or as sensual as the tattoo on your lover’s back.
Alan Larkin painting in his studio. Here he is using his Hughes Easel model 3000.