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Exhibitions: Past

Printmaking NOW

An Invitational Exhibition

Works by Grace Bentley-Scheck, Stephen Fisher, Jennifer Hughes, Barbara Pagh, Elias Roustom, Anne Tait, Kurt Wisneski, Dan Wood, and Pippi Zornoza

January 24 – February 21, 2008

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The transfer of information from one surface to another is an ancient process. The origins of printed matter can be found, along with depictions of animals, on cave walls scattered throughout the world. In those places, ancient peoples stenciled or printed images of their hands and scratched marks onto the surface of limestone. We cannot know the purpose of those actions, but the reasons seem clear – to communicate information, whether visual or textual – to leave something permanent behind.

The hallmark of printmaking is that one can create an image or page of text and make multiple copies of it. That may seem somewhat trivial in this era of digital information in a landscape littered with newspapers, Xerox machines, and inconceivable quantities of books and printed ephemera (think soda cans and CDs). But imagine if you will, a time before paper and printing, when a bard in a marketplace "published" the story of Beowulf by telling and retelling it or a time when one might have to travel for days or months to see a particular painting, drawing, or read a manuscript.

The invention of paper about 2,000 years ago and the development of movable type in the 1400s sent us tumbling forward to the place we are today, and visual artists have been there the whole time adapting various printing methods for their own ends. Artists in this exhibition use a myriad of processes to create the images you see here. While there are four basic printing techniques – relief, embossing, stenciling, and lithography – there are an infinite number of ways to manipulate and combine them.

Invented in Asia, relief processes are the oldest forms of printing known. The process is one in which the surface of a plate, piece of wood, or linoleum block is inked and printed directly onto a dampened sheet of paper, while the areas and lines which are cut away do not print. Often printed by hand, the relief method allows the artist almost unlimited scale (you could carve and print an entire sheet of plywood) without the need for expensive or sophisticated printing equipment.

Embossed printing techniques include engraving, etching, drypoint, and collagraph processes. Unlike relief, the lines and textures below the surface of a flat plate are inked and printed. The marks can be made with scribing tools, acids, and in some cases collage materials. Images like these are most often transferred with a printing press. The press forces paper into the spaces below the surface of the plate capturing the ink and creating raised areas on the paper.

The stenciling method is one in which ink is daubed or squeegeed through the openings cut through a flat material, such as paper, onto another surface. A press is not required to transfer the image and it remains right reading. Technological advances now allow stencils to be adhered to fine mesh fabrics stretched onto a frame. This process is known as silkscreen or screenprinting. Versatile and inexpensive, the process is capable of conveying complex textures and intricate line work.

Invented in Germany in the 1700s, lithography relies on the notion that oil and water do not mix. An image is drawn or painted with greasy crayons or liquids on an absolutely smooth piece of limestone. The stone is then chemically treated to stabilize the image and increase its receptivity to ink. During printing, the stone's surface is kept wet so that only the image will take ink applied with a roller. Although the principles of lithography are in essence simple, the technical processes in the printing are exceptionally complex. Because of this, many artists wishing to make lithographs have often worked in collaboration with master printers.

Printmaking NOW provides the opportunity for us to look at the work of nine artists. They employ a variety of techniques, sometimes in combination, to make the work you see here. To say that printmaking requires commitment and a love of process is an understatement. It can sometimes feel cruel and unforgiving, almost always labor intensive, and occasionally, misperceived as craft rather than art. But to those who practice it, it is addictive and satisfying – and with patience, extraordinary things can come of it.

Kathleen Hancock

The Artists

Grace Bentley-Scheck

Grace Bentley-Scheck's collagraphs are held in a number of public and private collections including Knoxville Museum of Art; Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon; and Bristol Community College. She has an MFA from SUNY at Alfred University, NY. Recent exhibitions include SAGA Exhibition, Prague; a solo exhibition at Hunter Gallery, Middletown, RI; and the 20th Parkside National Small Print Exhibition, University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Kenosha, WI. She received the 2006 Juror's Award at the 25th National Print Exhibition, Silvermine Guild Galleries, CT and the Robert Conover Memorial Award from the Society of American Graphic Artists in 2002.

Stephen Fisher

Stephen Fisher is Professor of Art at Rhode Island College. He was the 2004 recipient of the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts Fritz Eichenberg Fellowship Award in Drawing and Printmaking. His MFA is from Yale University. Recent exhibitions include Baroque Noir, Bannister Gallery, Rhode Island College; Chimeras, Frye Art Museum, Seattle, WA; and Drawings, Pepper Gallery, Boston, MA. His work is held in collections at The Brooklyn Museum, Cleveland Museum of Art, and National Museum of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

Jennifer Hughes

Jennifer Hughes holds an MFA from the University of Iowa. She is editor of the Graphic Impressions: Journal of the Southern Graphics Council and co-curator of the Resnikoff Gallery at Roxbury Community College. Recent exhibitions include Currents 2007, Pacific Northwest College of Art, Portland, OR; Works on Paper, Boston City Hall, Boston; and North American Print Exhibition, 808 Gallery, Boston University, Boston. Her work is held in collections such as Kohler Art Library, University of Wisconsin and Tama Art University Museum, Tokyo, Japan. Awards include the 2007 Juror's Award from the North American Print Exhibition, Boston University.

Barbara Pagh

Barbara Pagh is Professor of Art at the University of Rhode Island. Her MA is from New York University and she has a BA from Mount Holyoke College. Recent exhibitions include Paperworks, Hera Gallery, Wakefield, RI; Coastlines, Corridor Gallery, University of Rhode Island; and Under Pressure, The Art Gallery, Gateway Community College, New Haven, CT. Her work is held in collections such as Ashland Oil; IBM; and Owens Corning Fiberglass.

Elias Roustom

Elias Roustom is the owner and operator of EM Letterpress in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The press produces fine letterpress printed materials for a variety of clients. He currently teaches book arts courses at Brown University. He holds a BFA in Architecture from Roger Williams University, Bristol, RI and an MFA in Book Arts/Printmaking from The University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA.

Anne Tait

Anne Tait is Assistant Professor of Art at Roger Williams University. She holds an MFA from the American University, Washington, DC and a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. She has been the recipient of a number of Rhode Island State Council on the Arts Grants and was most recently an Artist in Residence at the Keeper's House, Grace Church Cemetery, Providence, RI. Recent exhibitions include Memto Vitae: Life in the Cemetery, Grace Church Cemetery, Providence, RI; Tondi, Wheeler Gallery, Providence, RI; and Black and White, Holland Tunnel, Brooklyn, NY.<

Kurt Wisneski

Kurt Wisneski holds an MFA from Syracuse University and is the author of Monotype/Monoprint: History and Techniques. He is Professor of Art at UMASS Dartmouth. Recent exhibitions include Works on Paper, Fine Art Academy, Warsaw, Poland; International Exhibition of Smaller Prints, Taller Galleria, Barcelona, Spain; and hand Pulled: The Contemporary Print, Target Gallery, Torpedo Factory, Alexandria, VA. His works are in collections at Midwest Museum of Art, Elkhart, IN, Provincetown Art Association and Museum, and the University Art Gallery, University of New Hampshire.

Dan Wood

Dan Wood is the director of DWRI Letterpress specializing in commercial and fine art offset and letterpress printing. In addition to private collections his work held in the Department of Prints at the New York Public Library. Recent exhibitions include Dan Wood at the Dirt Palace, Providence, RI; Christopher Leone and Dan Wood, Wheeler Gallery, Providence, RI; and Contemporary Letterpress, MCLA Gallery 51, North Adams, MA. He holds a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design.

Pippi Zornoza

Pippi Zornoza is a co-founder of the Dirt Palace, a feminist art collective. Recent exhibitions include Shangrila la Land and Wunderground: Providence 1995 to the Present, Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design. She was awarded the Rhode Island State Council of the Arts Fellowship in Design in 2006 as well as the Council's Request for Proposal Grants in 2005 and 2003. Her work has been published in the art-poster anthology, The Art of Modern Rock. She has also performed with bands such as Bonedust; Throne of Blood (2002-03); Sawzall (2001-02); and currently Vvltvre, a collaboration with artist and musician Annapurna & her solo project, Master Pizor. Zornoza is also the star in the cult movie classic, Die You Zombie Bastards, directed by Caleb Emerson.