Three printmaking majors, Emma Ringness, Tiernan Warner and Christine Adams, will feature a brand new art exhibit this week at the Step Gallery called, “Is That It?”
After taking an experimental printmaking course last semester, Ringness and Adams were inspired to propose a show that displayed a modern, multimedia interpretation of what printmaking could be. Later on, the two chose Warner to work with them as a third collaborator on their project because her work tied in nicely with their concept.
The three senior artists designed closely together in the studio, and Ringness realized their work, “conceptually and aesthetically played off each other’s,” leading them to create their show, “Is That It?,” which explores ideas in growth, fragility and questions asked in day-to-day life.
“We decided to apply for and propose a show that would highlight our own work while still contributing to a larger collective narrative that is, ‘Is That It?’” Warner, said.
“Is That It?” pushes the boundaries of the print medium by adding 3-D prints and not using substrates, or layers, found in traditional prints. This exhibition will be a show of the three artists’ talent as printmakers and how they combine their different focuses to create one show.
“While our work tackles similar themes of loss and change visually, we all have very different styles,” Warner said.
She said that she creates prints with “very simple, almost childlike line work,” while Adams creates “beautifully rendered drawings and self-portraiture.” Ringness works more on “three-dimensional installations and print work.”
They experimented with printmaking by printing in a non-traditional way.
“A lot of prints are displayed in frames on walls in galleries,” Ringness said. “We’re moving away from that, incorporating prints with 3-D and found objects, on unusual substrates, and as part of a larger installation.”
There will be prints hanging from the ceiling and on objects that are not usually used in printmaking, and each artist’s print will interact with the work of another artist.
“For all three of us, our work is very emotional and personal, something we’ve all approached in a very different way in our work,” Warner said. “I hope that the viewer sees the emotion that we’ve put into our work and finds themselves thinking about their own lives.”
Ringness mentioned that the three artists are friends but also “printmakers in crime.”
Printmaking is a versatile art form where the artist can draw, paint, etch, carve and even incorporate other photographic processes.
“There is such a wide range of mark-making you can achieve with each process,” Ringness said. “I was also really drawn to the process involved in creating a print. Printmakers tend to be suckers for process.”
Some matrices that printmakers use for their prints include metal or polymer plates, wood blocks and silkscreens.
Printmakers can make multiple prints of the same design and tend to hang them all up together in an exhibit.
“Printmaking is all about multiples,” Ringness said. “The quality of line and color you can achieve through print processes is unlike any other art form. Mostly, it’s just better.”
Warner said that her pieces in the show will mainly consist of lithography, something she’s “been really into lately.”
Stone lithography is a form of printing an image with oil, ink or wax on a stone surface. This printed image is then transferred to a piece of paper, making the printed page.
“In lithography, there are so many variables of what can go wrong, so it ends up being a lot of experimenting and a lot of messing up,” Warner said. “It’s very frustrating but usually ends up being worth it when you have a good print to show for it.”
Ringness said she doesn’t rely on one specific medium, and instead uses whichever one suits her work the best.
“One major difference is that my work features self-portraiture, so if you know what I look like, you can immediately tell which pieces are mine,” Adams said.
While some students use the Step Gallery space for thesis projects, these artists just wanted to showcase their work and simply put their ideas together.
“It made sense to put it all together into one show,” Ringness said. “It’s a valuable way to practice hanging your work in a space and receive feedback from faculty and friends.”
Peter Bugg, the gallery director who coordinates students’ exhibitions, said that the gallery is designed solely as a classroom space for students to develop their work and each exhibition is put up for one to two weeks. In this case, “Is That It?” will be up for two weeks.
Bugg also said that 90 percent of the installation will be at the hands of Ringness, Adams and Warner because they have prior installation experience. The artists are expected to plan and install their work, provide refreshments and a guest book for the opening reception and volunteer at the gallery during the show.
“There were a lot of hurdles to jump over: applying for the show last spring, designing postcards and posters, planning the opening reception – a lot of little things other than just making work,” Warner said.
But, for Warner, the experience was fun and pretty straightforward, thanks to the group’s ability to work well together.
“I hope that viewers walk away from this exhibition with a different idea of what art can be,” Adams said. “The gallery won’t look like what a traditional art show or museum looks like, and I think that’s exciting.”
“Is That It?” opens Oct. 16 and runs until Oct. 25. Gallery hours are Monday through Thursday from noon to 5 p.m. and Friday from noon to 3 p.m.
The opening reception will be Oct. 22 at 6 p.m., and all three artists will be attending.
This event is free, and viewers will be able to meet the artists, enjoy refreshments and tour the gallery. For more information about applying for an exhibition at the Step Gallery, go to the Step Gallery’s proposal site.
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