Roots: Potato Prints

One of the simplest types of printmaking is the potato print in which a design is carved on a potato that is then inked and printed like a rubber stamp. A potato is a root vegetable that serves primarily as a food source and incidentally as an art tool.

Printmaking traditionally was employed to create multiples. It begins with a printing matrix or plate (a woodblock, a metal etching plate, a carved potato) and many copies can be made of that image. That process challenged the notion of an original work of art.

In the series Potato Print a slice of a potato was photographed; a potato print was made from that potato; a photograph of the potato print was made; and an enlarged digital print of those two photographs was created. A traditional inked potato print on the digital print serves as a signature, also known as a “chop” in printmaking.

The series references the 1965 piece by Joseph Kosuth, One and Three Chairs. That work included an actual chair, a photograph of it and an enlarged, printed dictionary definition of the word “chair”. In Kosuth’s work the concept of chair was the focus. In our work we investigate the ideas­­ of print, photograph, originality and reproduction.