Monday, February 4, 2013

Printed Matters

Printed Matters
By Tom Wachunas

    EXHIBITION: Printed Matters: Unique Visions from Printmakers Anna Rather, Nicole Schneider, Lesley Sickle, and Emily Sullivan / AT GALLERY 6000 THROUGH MARCH 22 / Located in The University Center Dining Room, Kent State University at Stark, 6000 Frank Avenue NW, North Canton, OH. Viewing hours are variable due to pre-scheduled events, but usually best from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm Monday – Friday. OPENING RECEPTION is TUESDAY, FEB. 5, 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm.

    Beyond the engaging pictorial content itself, especially rich here is the inclusion of some relatively unique applications of printmaking methods.  And though the number of participating artists may be modest, the show offers a nonetheless expansive cross-section of approaches ranging from the traditional to the multi-dimensional.

    In the relatively ‘traditional’ realm of relief woodcuts and intaglio prints, Anna Rather’s swirling fantasies of oceanic life have a delightfully spontaneous, child-like fluidity about them. Intensely energetic and organic, they pulse with vividly saturated colors and all manner of expressionistic linearities and shapes. She calls them collectively “an emotional diary realized in imagery.”

    Emily Sullivan presents a fascinating hybridization of photography, screen printing and sculpture. Particularly noteworthy are two digital photographs of what might best be called intimate, highly textured sculptural environments comprised of glittery, cut-out printed paper forms loosely arranged in piles. Both Lumen and Sloughed emit an eerie glow, suggestive of irradiated biomorphic structures.

    The relief prints by Nicole Schneider are from her abstract series, Parameters #4. Formally, these explorations of relationships between variably-scaled shapes (mostly geometric), line and soft color are certainly compelling enough in their elegant precision. But in many ways they’re also very effective metaphors, evoking the idea of forces that are at times balanced in serene stasis, and at other times caught in a delicate if not precarious tension between opposites. 

    A similar intimacy, elegance and precision are at work in the abstract pieces – titled Shadow Play 1, 2, 3, and 4 -  by Lesley Sickle. Here, though, her superbly designed ensembles of layered lines and shapes (all screen prints on frosted mylar in gently iridescent colors) are more overtly sculptural, mounted in pristine white shadow boxes. Some of the juxtaposed visual elements – a melding of natural with man-made forms – are folded outward, away from the picture plane so as to cast subtle shadows on the surrounding white backgrounds. Delicate, playful and, like this show, wholly intriguing.

NOTE: Special curatorial thanks to Professor Carey McDougal, Fine Arts Faculty at Kent Stark, for recommending the inclusion of Nicole Schneider, Lesley Sickle and Emily Sullivan for this show, and also to Brennis Booth, co-owner of Second April Galerie, for connecting me with Anna Rather.

PHOTOS: (from top) Lumen, ink jet print, screen-printed papers, super fine glitter by Emily Sullivan; Whirlpool, intaglio by Anna Rather; Parameters #4, 1/8 by Nicole Schneider; Shadow Play, screen print on frosted mylar by Lesley Sickle.

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