Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Insightful Incisions


Insightful Incisions 

Every Year They Grow From Nothing

When I Become A Tree

When I Become A Tree In Fall (detail)

When I Become A Tree / Taking Off

Lying In Red

When I Become A Tree Aflame

I Thought I Was Supporting You #3

By Tom Wachunas 

“… Woodcut is incredibly physical and energetic, but also requires a level of intimacy and care in carving each mark. The resulting work is subtle, careful and rash, reflecting my own state of being as the artist…”  - Meryl Engler

From Merriam-Webster: Catharsis (kə-ˈthär-səs)

a: purification or purgation of the emotions (such as pity and fear) primarily through art

b: a purification or purgation that brings about spiritual renewal or release from tension


EXHIBIT: I Had Been Young Vol. 2 – woodcut prints by Meryl Engler / THROUGH MARCH 1, 2024,  at The Lemmon Visiting Artist Gallery, in the Fine Arts Building at Kent State University at Stark, 6000 FRANK AVENUE NW, NORTH CANTON, OH / Gallery hours Monday – Friday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. 

About the artist: Meryl Engler grew up in Huntington Beach, California and moved to Akron, Ohio in fall 2019.  Meryl attended Syracuse University where she studied sculpture, printmaking, religious studies and history, while also competing on the women’s rowing team.  Next she went to graduate school at University of Nebraska-Lincoln for studio art with an emphasis in printmaking.  This is where she developed her love of colorful woodcut prints, often using pattern and repetition.  She is inspired by hidden landscapes in our environment and the relationships we form to it and each other. In 2022 she started working at the Morgan Conservatory and learned Eastern and Western papermaking techniques and now incorporates papermaking into her print work.  She has shown both nationally and internationally...


   In her statement for this exhibit, Engler writes that in this latest series of prints, “…I felt compelled to delve into my personal narrative…using self-portraiture, herons that symbolize messengers of change and transformation, quilts to portray nurture and caring, and one very peculiar tree…”

   That tree had been growing through a few seasons in, of all unlikely places, a parking lot - a location, she surmised, annoying to “most people” - near her Akron residence. Yet she came to see it as a unique symbol of her own growth and change.

   Mesmerizing in their complex patterns and linearities, Engler’s images are at once crowded and airy. Breathtaking and breath-giving. Lines of varying densities harmonize and seem to breathe as they rise and spread outward from tight clusters of foliate shapes. Her mark-making has a calligraphic sort of elegance about it, as if the imagery wasn’t carved so much as written in cursive style. Further, Engler’s incorporation of color imbues many of her images with a diaphanous light you might well call palpable magic. Nowhere is all this dazzling intimacy and intricacy more commanding than in the sheer ambitious scale of several monumental prints mounted on the gallery’s longest wall. They’re eight feet tall! Talk about wild grace…

   The marvelous fluidity and exactitude of these meticulous renderings is absolutely entrancing. Insightful. Insiteful. They’re incised with all the skilled precision of a surgeon’s scalpel.  And so they do indeed cut to the heart, as it were, of a beautiful personal catharsis.