Carl Homstad

Decorah, IA


           Carl Homstad’s appealing color woodcuts show skillful handling of an ancient and difficult medium.  Several woodblocks, often a different block for each color, are overprinted to produce one cohesive image.  But it is Carl’s own words that give us the most enlightening description of his work. 

            “Art gives us an understanding of place.  One of the things an artist does is show us the way each place is beautiful, or awesome, or terrible.  I have lived in the same place for nearly twenty years, where I have built my own studio and house.  Like the One Hundred Views of Mt. Fuji, doing pictures of the same area again and again in the different seasons and times of the day is a way to gain a deeper understanding of a place.  Just as it takes a long time to understand the subtleties of an area, I like to make pictures that “grow on you”. Although realistic, my work is not photographic.  Naturalistic is perhaps a better description.

            With my woodcuts I am constantly trying new techniques as well as working on the old ones.  I try to get the most out of each cut, each color and each block.  In this age of the reproduction I believe in carrying on the tradition of the color woodcut, and I enjoy the challenge.  I work mostly from memory, creating images of ordinary places at extraordinary times, for example, in the rain or snow in the last rays of the sun.”

            Carl Homstad was born in Denver, Colorado, and selected Luther College in Decorah for his higher education, drawn there by his mentor, Orvill Running.  Post graduate study included work at the Institute of European Studies in Vienna, Austria, and spending a year doing independent study in Europe.  With an established reputation for printmaking, paintings and murals, Homstad made his home and studio in Decorah.  One highlight of his successful career was having two of his prints selected for the book, “Art of the State, Iowa.”  Homstad would like to see increased arts education help develop a lasting demand for the arts.  “A public that appreciates the importance of the arts,” claims Homstad, “will provide the opportunities that artists need to keep working.”            

In 1998, Homstad received a Distinguished Service Award  “Upper Broadway”   from Luther College.  Homstad recognizes that the life of an artist is a life of problem solving.  “There is no income unless we make it happen,” he states, “day after day, week after week, year after year.  Keeping the faith is a constant challenge for an artist.”  Homstad is part of a successful group of Decorah area artists who host a popular open studio weekend each October.  Homstad’s dream project would be to see the completion of his collaboration with Iowa poet, Michael Carey.  He created 22 woodcut Illustrations for Carey’s collection of poems.  “I would love to see a letterpress edition with prints from the blocks,” Homstad muses.