Three artists, with backgrounds in three different art concentrations, found themselves together in a small-enrollment printmaking class. The new exhibition at Gallery 208, “The Art of Possibility: Three Artists Explore Printmaking,” is the result of a year of comradery and exploration, each artist discovering an opportunity to refigure meaning in their work through printmaking materials and techniques. The public is invited to attend the opening reception Tuesday, June 18, from 5:30- 7 p.m. at Gallery 208.
Visitors to the exhibition will see traditional and unexpected ways each artist approaches the printmaking medium. For example, the background for two of Angela Stouts’ monoprints have been goldleafed or silver-leafed by the artist on large sheets of printmaking paper. Jade Robin incorporates a piece of stained mulberry paper, the result of the last big hurricane, in a chine-collé process, combined with the process of using a box cutter to scratch across a pronto plate before printing. Both artists contrast with the seemingly effortless minimal prints by Maria Anglero. Her pristine patterns, referencing nature, float across an off-white paper surface.
Knowing the backstory of each artist will help to unfold the whole story: How the works of three emerging artists from different medium preferences — a printmaker, a painter and a ceramicist — resulted in a printmaking exhibition at Gallery 208.
Robin, an undergraduate student in printmaking at Fayetteville State University, knew she wanted to become proficient in printmaking during her first class in that subject. Since that introductory class, Robin has systematically investigated the technical rigors of each category under the printmaking umbrella — relief, intaglio, serigraphy and lithography. While practicing the many techniques in each category simultaneously, Robin had to come to terms with meaning in her work. For Robin, she was enrolled in one of the printmaking courses in her degree track when the backstory begins.
Stout, a highly talented painter, is in the process of completing her last several semesters as an undergraduate student in art education with a painting concentration. She needed to complete a required printmaking course, was ready to take a short break from painting and found herself in the same printmaking class with Robin.
Then we add Anglero to the mix. Anglero, who is a recent graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in ceramics, had room in her schedule to add an elective. She decided to take an advanced printmaking class. All three end up together in Robin’s printmaking world: Practice new assigned techniques, become proficient in those assigned techniques, and experiment with unconventional techniques. And while you’re at it, bring personal meaning to a body of work.
Anglero had already completed an introductory printmaking class at Fayetteville Technical Community College, so early in the year, she felt comfortable practicing several advanced relief printing techniques. Robin’s printmaking experience was helpful to the group, and for Stout, it was all new.
Everyone brought advanced experiences from a different degree concentration. Each had already created a body of work in their concentration. All three were enamored with the printmaking processes.
The successes that resulted in an exhibition were also the result of each artist’s confidence in themselves and their shared philosophy about image- or object-making. There is no one way, no one culture, no right or wrong meaning. There is simply the power of material and compositional unity to express personal meaning.
For all three artists, printmaking has informed their art across disciplines. It is not required for visitors to Gallery 208, but understanding the value and influence of printmaking on the artists’ work has the potential to enrich an appreciation of the individual works in the exhibit.
Of the ways the processes in printmaking influence meaning in her work, Robin said, “From the very beginning, I liked that there are so many steps in printmaking — sketching, making the matrixes, color selections, proofing, then printing the edition or doing a series of monoprints.
“With each step, you have a different direction you can go. For me, each option has the potential to create new meaning. I love the open-ended possibilities of processes; even a mistake can take your image in a new direction.
“As an artist, I am presently preoccupied with the idea of identity. As I develop ideas about identity, process can influence new meaning for me, so (having) variations in the process is important to me. Variations in process inspire variations of feeling as well as distinctions in meaning and content.”
In comparison, ceramicist Anglero noted how she likes the physicality of the printmaking medium. “In ceramics, I use tools, and I include my hands as tools, to shape form. So I immediately responded to the act of using gouges to carve a block for a relief print.
“My love of nature, trees in particular, is reflected in my ceramic vessels. Bringing the idea of nature’s surfaces to printmaking opened up new ways of seeing the potential of patterns across disciplines. Although I began to use the silk-screening process with ceramic slips on three-dimensional forms, my greatest lesson was not separating the two mediums as completely distinct — both processes inform the other.
“For me, printmaking is a way to explore ideas about surface and meaning in new ways that always has the potential of continuing to influence my love of ceramics.”
As a painter, Stout immediately discovered the potential of printmaking to explore new meaning in her work. Stout stated, “As soon as I let go of the idea of a preconceived end-result and allowed myself to see the potential of new techniques and experimentation to inform content, I was liberated and comfortable to think about painting in a new way. Using paper, exploring new techniques, experimenting with new color combinations — I was working in an environment of trying multiple ideas and multiple techniques in ways that I would have not approached on canvas.
“Like painting, printmaking has become a neverending search on ways for me to express my core intent of expressing unity in opposition.”
“The Art of Possibility: Three Artists Explore Printmaking” is the result of three very different artists experiencing the difficulties and successes of printmaking processes. The value of informal dialogue with each other, sharing approaches to creative problem-solving, and ultimately understanding how all artists wrestle with personal meaning and content also underlie this show.
The public is invited to see the exhibit and meet the artists during the opening reception June 18 from 5:30-7 p.m. The exhibit will stay hanging in Gallery 208 until mid-August 2019. Gallery 208 is located at Up & Coming Weekly, 208 Rowan St. There is plenty of parking behind the building. For more information, call 910-484-6200.