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Here and There: Two Degrees of Separation

Selected printmakers from the Capital Region invite
printmakers from outside the area to join together
in an exhibition to be held in the Burns Arts Atrium.

February 8 – March 19, 2010

Participants include:

Milt Connors inviting Judith Hugentobler (NY, NY)

Katie DeGroot inviting Garry Mitchell (Colby, Maine)

Allen Grindle inviting Jason Stewart (NY, NY)

Pattie Lipman inviting Carol Sanchez (Albuquerque, NM)

Harold Lohner inviting Jenny Robinson (San Francisco, CA)

Thom O’Connor inviting Cecile Boucher (Gatineau, Quebec, CA)

Sunghee Park inviting Manny Guerra (El Paso, TX)

Nancy Powhida inviting Bill Powhida (NY,NY)

Marion Preston inviting Anthony Ryan (San Francisco, CA)

Sandy Wimer inviting Bill Hosterman (Allendale, MI)

Here and There: Two Degrees of Separation

Printmaking’s unique qualities produce widely varying effects that cannot be easily realized through other means. Each material and process has its own visual language that the artist wields to create work unlike painting, drawing, or other art forms. A print is an image made in such a way that it can be multiplied. It requires the creation of a matrix that historically is made of wood, metal, or stone. An impression of the matrix is transferred to another surface, such as paper. Printmaking has become diversified with the advent and incorporation of photography and computer technologies, but fundamentally the resulting print is an original work of art that can have multiple copies.

The multiplicity of prints is often perplexing. How can something that is reproduced be considered an original? In part, the intent of the creator distinguishes the fine art print from mass-produced commercial products. Each printmaking process has its own distinctive characteristics and artistic connotations. The artist chooses a technique that suits a particular expression or concept.

In the exhibition Here and There: Two Degrees of Separation the artists have made prints using both traditional and modern techniques: relief, intaglio, lithography, monotype, screen print, and digital processes. The earliest printed images were relief prints, the most common being woodcut, which first appeared in China around the ninth century. The process is named such because the printing surface is raised from the background. Non-image areas of a design are cut away and ink is applied to the remaining high surfaces of a woodblock. Paper is laid on the block and pressed to transfer the ink.

Intaglio is the opposite of relief printmaking. The name derives from the Italian intagliare meaning “to incise” and refers to the fact that the printing area is depressed below the surface rather than raised above. A number of techniques can be used to incise a metal intaglio plate, including engraving, etching, drypoint, and mezzotint. Ink is rubbed into the recessed areas, and then dampened paper is pressed onto the plate to pick up the ink. The process not only transfers the image, but also slightly embosses the paper.

Lithography is planographic, it has a flat printing surface, and it is based on the antipathy of grease and water. An image is drawn on a smooth stone or plate which is then chemically treated so that printing ink adheres only to the drawn areas. Monotype is also a planographic process involving painting on a glass or metal surface, then transferring the image to paper. It is called “mono” because typically only one impression is created. However, some artists paint the image again using the ink residue on the plate as a guide in order to create multiple prints. Screenprinting is a form of stenciling that first gained popularity around the 1930s as a convenient way to reproduce text.

In the early 1980s, computer software programs were designed to incorporate procedures and filters resembling traditional painting, photography, and drawing tools. As personal computers and printers have become more affordable and user-friendly computer applications have opened creative possibilities to a wide range of artists. The digital camera and scanner allow artists to collect and manipulate images, offering previously unimagined possibilities. Creating prints involves equipment, studio facilities, and technology that can be expensive and complex, thus encouraging the use of communal workshops. Artists can meet to share ideas about process and the creation of their art. Spontaneous critique of each others work in a print shop is common. The multiplicity of prints strongly encourages the dissemination of images. Printmakers can sell, trade with other artists, and keep impressions as a record of artistic growth. Here and There: Two Degrees of Separation shows the close-knit bond at the center of the field of printmaking. The artists in this exhibition explore a variety of subjects—each with their own unique style and aesthetic philosophy— but their approach to printmaking reflects a common understanding of the history of prints, a command of techniques, and a proclivity to experimentation.

Debora Wood, Senior Curator
Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art
Northwestern University
Evanston, IL

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