Father’s ashes accent artist’s ‘Self Portrait’

Posted at 5:16 PM, Sep 24, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-24 17:26:01-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - There’s a unique story behind every installation at ArtPrize.

For some artists, the story is also personal.

For ArtPrize veteran David Dodde, his 2014 entry, ‘Self Portrait,’ has an even deeper meaning.

“Printing oneself with oneself is really a very intriguing idea, something that I’ve never seen or heard of,” Dodde told FOX 17.

In December, Dodde lost his father – Ryan Dodde - a major influence on his life.

“I’m really doing this because I thought, ‘what a great opportunity to talk about my dad,’” said Dodde. “He was so instrumental in me being here, being part of ArtPrize, being part of anything. And so, this is really just for him.”

After his father’s death, Dodde was looking for a way to honor his dad, but it wasn’t until he went to spread his father’s ashes that it came to him.

“I noticed that his ashes were very similar to the pigments that I use in screen printing in my fine art,” Dodde said.

That’s when he decided he wanted to use the remains in his artwork. But, he needed approval, so he called his mom.

“Her initial reaction was a laugh, a chuckle,” Dodde explained. But she went on to say, “’Your dad would love it. He would just love. He’s laughing right now about it.’ I think that’s what really gave me permission.”

The piece, which hangs in the Women’s City Club, is a screen print, over a wooden box-turned canvas. What’s important to understand about screen prints is that they’re most commonly used commercially, for t-shirts. This would be different.

“What we did was dip a screen and I had one chance,” he said. “And you pour the ink in…it’s called a stencil, apply a single layer of ink down first, clean out the screen and pour in the ash.”

While many Artprize entries are for sale, ‘Self Portrait’ is not.

“The piece, when it’s done, will go back to my studio and live with me for the rest of my life,” said Dodde. “When I’m done I’ll take care it either goes on, or potentially, incinerated itself.”