First Time in the Hall

I live in Midwestern basketball country. Although there have been years when the home team Hoosiers have not been a formidable opponent, Assembly Hall is always an intimidating place. It is a relatively small arena, with seats that rise to ridiculous, gravity-defying heights. We’ve only ever attended pre-season games, and I can imagine how these college kids from much smaller schools must feel.  Excited, overwhelmed, surrounded, inadequate, humbled, inspired.

Just about to enter the 808 Gallery…

This is how I felt as I attended the Boston Printmaker’s 2013 Biennial in Boston this past weekend. The show is the oldest running print show, and arguably a premier place for printmakers to show their work. I blithely sent off images last winter, fully expecting a “no thank you” but was surprised to find that Breath Intertwined was accepted. A weekend in Boston was great for seeing some family, checking out some colleges, and especially attending this show.

Elizabeth Busey. Breath Intertwined.
Reduction Linoleum Print, 25 x 17in. 2012.

The 808 Gallery at Boston University is an impressive place. It is on the ground floor of one of BU’s Fine Arts Buildings. It has a detailed metal ceiling which makes one think it must have had a past life.

Panorama of the 2013 Boston Printmakers Biennial at Boston University’s 808 Gallery.

This show was different from the solo shows I’ve had in my small hometown. While I had a name tag, I sensed it would be inappropriate to hover around my piece to speak with people. I had plenty of time to consider a truly wide variety of works and get lots of new ideas. Several artists printed on synthetic surfaces such as mylar which allowed for new effects and depth in a 2-D format. Others had 3-D installations to which I am always drawn. Guest artist Ibrahim Miranda used long rectangular screen printed panels along with images of cartography to reflect on his experiences as a Cuban artist.

Installation by Cuban artists, Ibrahim Miranda.

I did get to meet printmaker Annie Bissett in person at the show.  Annie’s work has both political and personal themes, and she uses the Japanese Moku Hanga technique to create series of prints that she says are essentially “books in her head.” Her blog, Woodblock Dreams, is one of my favorites.

One of the reasons to attend the show was to hear the talk by juror Dennis Michael Jon, an Associate Curator at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. His talk began by considering printmaking of the past and wondering about how printmaking will fare in the future. New techniques both in 2-D digital imagery and 3-D printing will change the way some printmakers create. Yet printmakers still suffer from the interplay between multiplicity and value.

I wish there was a link to the show’s catalogue, but here is a sampling of the works to which I was most drawn. I offer them without comment, so you can take a bit of a virtual tour of the show.

Stella Ebner — screen printing
Phyllis Ewen — she calls her work sculptural drawing
Louise Kohrman — installation of etchings on pins
Amanda Knowles  — screenprint on Duralar
Robin Koss – aquatint, etching, collage
Deborah Weiss — woodcut and carborundum

I came away from this experience feeling challenged to create some very different work — new materials, new inks, and new sizes.  It is an honor to have been chosen for the biennial. I’m hoping I can make it a repeat performance in future seasons.

What are the venues that challenge you?


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