Wendy Partridge has an affinity for the ephemeral. As an art conservator, steeped in an understanding of deterioration, she infuses her own work with a sensitivity to fragility. Partridge devotes her well-honed professional expertise to painting restoration, serving as a conservator at Cleveland’s Intermuseum Conservation Association where she revives and preserves what has been compromised or insulted by time. But as a letterpress printer and book artist, Partridge revels in the transitory, creating folios that meld the assertiveness of type with the vulnerability of the image.
Born in Rome, Italy, completing her undergraduate degree in 1985 at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, where she majored in French and History, trained in painting and printmaking at California College of Arts and Crafts and San Francisco University; all cap stoned by earning a graduate degree at the prestigious Conservation Center of New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts in 1999, Wendy Partridge can boast an impressive CV with a cosmopolitan pedigree. However, she filters her eclectic background in works that fluctuate between specificity and universality.
Cleveland has remained Patridge’s home for over a decade. In her 2010 book Refuge, pressprinting on letterpress with handset type, she evocatively reflects on her acclimation to her new home as she transverses urbanized obstructions to gain unfettered ingress to Lake Erie. Diffused, cool, watercolor washes never compete with but gently cover her words. “From where I work I can see Lake Erie. It is hard to know the Lake. Access is poor, industrial, or run down. One winter at a wildlife refuge, I learned that I might love the lake. The refuge is too small, but you can hear wild swans coming down from the Arctic.”
In her 2018 book Report from the Neighborhood, lithography, pressure printing, and monotype, Partridge chronicles two blocks in her neighborhood. Maps ghost underneath faintly recalled buildings and tree-lined streets; during her two-block trek, the forms become denser as her words continue to whisper. A map morphs into translucent, overlapping botanicals that cover the page in the 2018 Wily Garden. Again, type tends to equivocate, reliant on the imagery in which it is couched. Eschewing a sense of place, Patridge follows the trajectory of Blackbirds as they ascend into the translucency of the skies; as the birds disappear, the surrounding words crescendo. Partridge channels iconic artists without relinquishing her own visual voice in the whimsically provocative in her on-going project initiated in 2014, Artist on Art.
Wendy Patridge’s works are included in several collections, including Ohio Arts Council, MetroHealth Systems, and the San Francisco Public Library. Widely exhibited, she was the focus of two solo exhibitions: “Refuge” at the William Busta Gallery in 2014 and “Place in the World” at Deep Dive in 2021. In addition to her professional work as a painting conservator at ICA, Partridge is a resident artist at Zygote Press where she helped establish the letterpress studio. In 2010 she received the Paul H. & Ginger S. Duensing Scholarship from the Penland School of Crafts to take a two-week intensive letterpress workshop with book artist Inge Bruggeman. In 2012 she was awarded a five-week residency at the Grafikwerkstatt in Dresden, Germany by Zygote, and the Ohio Arts Council.