The process of duplicating images goes back several thousand years to the Sumerians (c. 3000 B.C.), carving designs on
ceramic cylinders made of dried clay or stone, then rolling the cylinders over clay tablets to leave impressions. In lieu of clay tablets, the artists in Off the Wall: An Approach to the Print were asked to combine an illusionary printing process with, or as, a 3-dimensional form.
Off the Wall: An Approach to the Print opens May 4 at Gallery 208 in Fayetteville. Artists from various disciplines (photography, ceramics, printmaking, painting and the graphic arts) were asked to take the medium they usually work in, but successfully integrate 2-dimensional, reproductive print imagery with a 3-dimensional form.
One of the eight artists, Shane Booth, a professional photographer, has been exploring the cyanotype photograph for several years and decided to explore the cyanotype image as a sculptural form for the exhibit. Booth noted, “as a photographer I’m attracted to pattern, negative space and texture- visual texture, not the physical tactile. In thinking about how to integrate my latest cyanotypes of animals into a sculptural form, it was necessary to think about space in a very different way than I usually think about it.”
After experimenting with ways to create a sculptural form, Booth’s prints are rolled into cylinders as reliefs on the wall. The projected blue and white surface has cut-out shapes, that relate to the animal in some way, attached to the surface. Booth noted, “the result of rolling the print as a relief actually enhanced the character of each animal. The 3-dimensional photograph tells a better story to emphasize the whimsical aspects I want the viewer to see – even more than if they were framed and hanging on the wall framed behind glass.”
In comparison, ceramicist, and sculptor Skylor Swann, revisited an idea he had abandoned twenty years ago – how to integrate ceramic decals with his sculptural forms. As an undergraduate student studying ceramics at Southern Utah University, Swann briefly experimented with the process, but abandoned the idea to focus on and practice the sculptural form in clay.
Visitors to the gallery will see how the artist, years later, has integrated ceramic decals with his mature style of working with clay. “New Kelp City” is a stoneware sculpture combined with laser printed decals. Swann refers to his 22”x 23” x 10” sculpture in the round as “a type of fractal form, organic in nature, also a symbolic city scape or neighborhood emerges.” Swann refers to his architectural form as a “colony of skyscrapers.” The ceramic decals are fired into the glazed surface, silhouettes can be seen within the miniature images of office windows placed upwards along the tubular skyscrapers.
Artists Angela Stout and Beverly Henderson both practiced integrating their prints into folded forms using matboard and is exhibiting two early works, “Arbor Day” by Henderson, and “Torn” by Stout, to compare how both artists moved to permanent material for their final works. Henderson, a sculptor raised in Colorado, has always been fascinated by nature and the science of nature. Seeing “form first” Henderson stated, “my printed patterns from nature are natural combinations with the intricacy and repeating patterns of organic chemistry.” The original paper sculptures resulted in Henderson interfacing her printing her organic patterns on folded metal wall reliefs.
After bending matboard to create forms with hard edges, painter and printmaker Stout envisioned combining her images with curvilinear forms. As an artist, Stout sees the possibilities of light and illusion to create meaning in her work and is always inspired by the portrait as a subject.
After experimenting with malleable material, Stout stated: “the hard edges of the plane and the printed image did not evoke the emotion I wanted to convey, it became evident I needed to research material I could easily bend, and the material would hold its curvilinear shape. I purchased material rigid enough to go through the printing press but could become malleable with heat to support the expressive qualities of the portrait images. Material, image and form now have the potential to convey a feeling and evoke emotions.”
Artists Shani Lewis and Alfie Frederick collaborated on a work titled “Insert 2020.” A shadow box is filled with a collection of COVID-19 masks individually stamped with the letters of a different state and the number of people infected with the virus during March 2021. Both artists have an art background, yet their “non-art” career path influenced the sculpture.
Lewis, a graphics designer, left her art career and is enrolled in school to become a physical therapist. Frederick, with a background in printmaking and painting, is employed in the field of Geospatial Information. Lewis’ background in health services and Frederick’s career in statistical tracking influenced the direction of their work titled “Insert 2020.”
Both artists were asked how combining imagery and a 3-dimentional form influenced the way they could express themselves. Frederick quickly responded by saying, “I realized mixed media was another way to view ideas about the multiple print.” Both agreed, “in the mixed media sculpture they created, meaning in the work is more readily interpreted instead of an image illustrating the narrative image.”
Due to Jonathan Chestnut’s background in sculpture, digital arts, 3D printing and the laser printer, he effortlessly resolved the combination of image and form. In the sculpture titled “Fatherhood,” Chestnut combines stacked children’s building blocks with laser printed images. Depending on the viewpoint, the viewer will see a changing image on both sides of the form.
For the print element, Chestnut cut the individual blocks on a table saw, then using the laser printer, cut a letter from the alphabet on each block to create stamps he could use repeatedly.
Although juxtaposing image and the 3-dimensional form was not new to Chestnut, he said, “due to the challenge, I now have an inventory of lettered stamps to inspire
Art educator Cornell Jones is a painter and mixed media artist. Inspired by Faith Ringgold and Pacita Abad, Jones’ resolved the challenge by silk-screening one graphic image of a female on pieces of fabric, each piece of fabric hangs from mounted wall hooks.
Jones creates an alternating rhythm between three images screened on a flat black background of muslin and six images screened onto hanging red fabric. His title, “An A and B Selection from the Choir,” invites interpretation and the symbolism of using black, red and white.
Jones stated he was “inspired by the works of assemblages of Faith Ringgold and Pacita Abad. My approach to making this work was to think of it as an assemblage and to present the print as an object. I thought about the content of the work as I decided on using fabric as my support.”
The unifier between the eight very different artists is a contemporary trend since modernism: artists continually alter their materials, techniques and processes. Off the Wall: An Approach to the Print is an exhibition that combines traditional and new print techniques with innovative ideas, printing on nontraditional surfaces and using digital technology to convey meaning. In contemporary art, there is no one way to make a work of art or establish what a work of art should be made from.
Visitors to Off the Wall: An Approach to the Print will not only see successful works of art, but they will also experience contemporary trends and theories in art since the early 20th century. There are no discernible features for what a work of art should look like or what it should be made from; instead, value is dependent upon a complex open-ended system of possibilities and a work of art, quite simply, is experienced.
The public reception for Off the Wall: An Approach to the Print is May 4 from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. and the exhibit will remain up until mid-July.
Gallery 208 is located at 208 Rowan St. in Fayetteville. Guests are asked to wear a mask at the reception. For information call 910-484-6200.