Artists create prints that stand out
By Mark Jenkins
Friday, August 10, 2012
The expectation for etchings, woodcuts and the like is that they’re small and delicate, even self-effacing. The exhibit “CTRL+P: New Directions in Printmaking” at the Arlington Arts Center doesn’t simply want to counter that impression. It wants to blow it up.
Unexpectedly large images are one way that the show, curated by Kristina Bilonick and Julie Chae, defies notions of what a print can be or do. Gary Kachadourian’s drawing of a sofa and furnishings is life-size; it was printed by a shop that reproduces architectural plans. The inside of the art center’s elevator is covered entirely in cross-hatched lines stenciled by Jeremy Flick, whose work shows how scale can alter perception. Flick took the visual motif from privacy patterns printed on the inside of envelopes, but the lines have an entirely different presence at this size.
Some of the art refuses to stay on paper or otherwise submit to a two-dimensional plane. Anne Albagli’s three screenprints, all one of a kind, are further individualized with blobs of bright yellow plaster, and plaster powder has piled up on the floor underneath.
Jungil Hong’s “49 Days Later in the Same Dimension” uses size, color and 3-D elements. It covers a large chunk of wall with glossy paper squares containing a diamond pattern, essentially gift-wrapping a section of the gallery. A few of the panels have been replaced with segments that protrude or seem to recede from the overall piece, defying the flatness of the paper (and the wall beneath it).
Several of these 28 artists are known for leaving galleries and museums altogether, in some cases by wheat-pasting prints in public places. Steve Lambert brought his art -- printed, but also conceptual -- to the street when he marked President Obama’s election with a fake “special edition” of the New York Times full of good news (at least for those whose politics tilt left). It was distributed free at subway stations in Manhattan.
Lambert’s crew filmed reactions to the phony newspaper, and visitors can view excerpts from those comments on a monitor above a copy of the publication. Video is commonplace in art galleries these days, so it’s no great surprise that printmakers are supplementing their knives and squeegees with cameras. Jordan Bernier’s 36-monitor video piece, “TV Grid,” seems like an exercise in abstract color, but it actually shows different moments in the screen-printing process.
Other artists whose work is on display engage the outside world, albeit in very different ways. Kyle Durrie converted a bread truck into a mobile print studio and gave lessons as she crossed the country. Hugh Leeman sells his art on T-shirts and uses the proceeds to pay for shirts for needy neighbors. Marie Lorenz makes full-size rubbings of everyday items she finds in New York’s waterways, from underwear to an entire jet ski.
The latter required more than one sheet of paper, of course. But then again, the ambition to make prints that are too big or too bold for traditional materials and techniques is exactly what “CTRL+P” is celebrating.
The story behind the work
By Mark Jenkins
Friday, August 10, 2012
Its keyboard-inspired name aside, “CTRL+P” is not a show of computer-generated prints.
“Of the artists I selected, I don’t think I picked any digital printing work,” says Kristina Bilonick, the show’s co-curator. “What we’re embracing is people who are using old techniques but taking them to a new level.”
Bilonick says she “sought people who have a little bit of ‘hand’ in their work.” But that doesn’t mean that technology plays no role. Gary Kachadourian uses photocopied images and makes his cut-and-fold prints available as free downloads on his Web site. Jeremy Flick hand-stencils images on high-tech adhesive vinyl that’s meant for digital printers.
Then there’s Kyle Durrie, who raised money via Kickstarter for her traveling art project, “Movable Type,” and blogged about the trip. But when she hit the road in a 1982 Chevrolet van, her companion was an antique letterpress whose basic technology dates to Gutenberg.