Domestication of the Printmakers Part I
Challenging Media: Provocative Printmaking at Gallery360
Oct 5 – Oct 28
A group art exhibit is no simple task when looked at from all the angles: organization, artist selection, space division, thematic/visual/conceptual successes and clashes, all the way down to installation. With all of those things in mind I am firmly able to say that they are the exact reasons that group shows are also the most rewarding from a professional standpoint, and I can only hope they are as enjoyable and informative to our viewers. This month’s exhibit, Challenging Media: Provocative Printmaking, has brought together a group of five young contemporary printmakers from Washington DC (JD Deardourff), Brooklyn NY (Mary Bluestocking), Philadelphia PA (Michael Inzinna), and of course right here in Lancaster (Henry Gepfer & Uriah Arbogast).
At the outset of planning, I was interested in considering the direction of contemporary printmaking by analyzing the work of emerging artists who have been trained to utilize a wider variety of materials and JD Deardourff, Bridge to Total Freedom technologies than in the past, while maintaining roots in traditional practices of printmaking like screen printing, lithography, intaglio, and woodcuts.
How does printmaking maintain it’s traditional roots while contending with the contemporary concerns of media, technology, and the new age of mechanical reproduction?
Digital methods of printmaking, installation, collaboration, and integration of new audiences through updated modes of production leave the medium wide open for interpretation. My fantastically talented and motivated friend, Henry Gepfer helped me organize this group of artists from the beginning, taking into consideration who he as an emerging artist has been inspired by. When we brought each of these perspectives together, it became clear to me that though they take their inspiration from a multitude of different sources, they come together to provide variation in the world of printmaking over continued replication. This exhibit has taught those involved at every level about the importance of variability of printmaking Michael Inzinna, Praise the CyberGod processes, exhibition styles, and the possibilities for mixed media incorporation.
Technological history has certainly informed the work of local artist Uriah Arbogast, and his piece The Domestication of the Great Apes: A Portrait of Alan Turing in 15 Equal Parts acts a a brief visual history of mathematician Alan Turing’s life and work. Uriah says, “The lives of great men and women who have altered the course of history become consumed in the wake of their revelations. …The significance of private moments are transcended and intensified by the universal condition of human experience. These narratives have the power of persuasion through rhetoric, influencing action and conveying emotions across spacial, temporal and cultural divides.”
Take a peek at the video for your own personal artist talk, and learn how Uriah incorporated math, science, and 3D technology into his printmaking practices. If you got the opportunity to see this work in all it’s 3D glory, here’s some more info on why you loved it, and if you haven’t seen it yet get excited! Science, War, Crime, Death, and Mystery are all part of the tale told by one of our favorite local artists….
Another of my favorite aspects of this exhibit is the collaboration and mixed media approach involved in Mary Bluestocking’s Mano Sanando #10 (Healing Hands). When Mary was in Guatemala teaching art to child workers and orphans, she was inspired by a “Mano Musical” intaglio print in El Museo del Libro Antiguo in Antigua, Guatemala. “I was planning to have the kids color it, but unsure of how to style the rendering. I’d been ruminating over this question for a couple of weeks when, in Antigua’s Museum of the Antique Book, I came upon a mano musical. I was so struck by this coincidence I decided to make mine in the same style. This then created a historical arc which was unintended: the kids were not just coloring “healing hands” they were coloring healing hands which referenced their own history–their colonial history, specifically– a whole new dimension of the piece was born.” Mano Sanando #10, is on display in Challenging Media, color by student Carlos. This piece exemplifies the possibilities of crossing cultural and technological boundaries in art while still preserving traditional and historic processes.
Mary Bluestocking, Mano Sanando #10
An influence that seemed to be consistent throughout the work of both JD Deardourff and Henry Gepfer is that of classic comic illustrations. JD uses as many as 13 layers of color in his screenprints to add action, movement, detail while at the same time allowing the visual information to remain abstracted enough for the viewer to continually find innumerable recognizable shapes and scenes. Henry’s Karma Bro, Karma takes the boldly outlined comic characters off of the page and into 3D space while maintaining his sense of humor, one of my favorite qualities in his work. Humor is certainly present in all of Henry’s pieces, along with a behind the scenes look at the artist’ process in Can You Hear Me Now? which incorporates the woodcut block that was used to print the mirrored can image, creating a link between the two surfaces, between the process and the finished piece, and between our nostalgic memories of tin can telephones with our understanding of “fine art” as we know it.
Henry Gepfer, Karma Bro, Karma
Lastly, I want to thank all of the artists involved for their contribution to this exhibit, one that I am incredibly proud of. Challenging Media will be on display through October 28th, and we will be featuring some of the artists’ prints in our upcoming Gallery360 Print Library. Head over to Part II of this Blog, which features the installation of Henry Gepfer’s piece Ties in a Screenprinting 101 tutorial!
Be well until the next time everyone!
Henry Gepfer, Can You Hear Me Now?