I’ve just come back from a March printmaking bonanza! Firstly, New York and the Metropolitan Art Museum, and then the Southern Graphics Conference in Tennessee. Here are some of the things I saw…

IMG_8824_eAt New York’s Center for Book Arts, I enjoyed John Jacobsmeyer’s show More Than Human, a sequence of over 80 wood engravings all cut from cross-sections of the same 40-year-old maple tree, representing an American Sign Language interpretation of the soliloquy in James Dickey’s poem Sheep Child.

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Noah Breuer and I then went to NYU to teach printmaking. Here are some of the students looking at my books.

IMG_8828_eAt the NY Metropolitan Art Museum print department I had a look at the anamorphic prints in their collection as research for my talk on Distortion.

IMG_8921_eI was completely stunned by this etching by Kathe Kollwitz and some small Posada prints which were there.IMG_8908_eKnoxville is located in Tennessee close to the Great Smoky Mountains; Dolly Wood, home of Dolly Parton; a building called the Sunsphere (that looks like a tomoato on a stick); and the University of Tennessee. I stayed in downtown Gay Street in a loft in the iconic Sterchi Apartment block, with the most amazing view.

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Printmaking madness was already obvious on the campus, with Crystal Wagner’s huge installation of prints that looked like a cascading dragon stretching over three floors and entering the gallery space itself.

IMG_9019_eThe print department was really spacious and boasted the largest (reportedly) American French Tool press in the USA, along with a wide array of printing stations ranging from litho at one end to screenprint and the other.

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I admired the beautiful prints by Karen Kunc and Tracy Templeton, who had visited the department.

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Off site shows were rich and varied, sadly I forgot to take photos of many favourites. However, here are a few good uns: local Yee Haw industries letterpress posters which were full of colour and wit…

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Happy printers from Drive by Press located in Striped Light letterpress studio giving a popular demo of T shirt printing…IMG_9249_eMiguel Aragon’s sobering series of victims of the Mexican border wars (drug cartels struggling for supremacy): laser-cut burnt residue embossed prints based on newspaper photographs….

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Wroclaw school of art graduate Agatha Gertchen’s incredible linocuts…IMG_9161_e_agathagertchen

And fellow Wroclaw printmaker Zuzanna Dyrda’s witty print intervention on the occasion of her mum’s marriage…IMG_9167_e_zuzannadyrda

Art Werger’s multiplate mezzzotint colour trial proofs… (honestly mad)IMG_9301_werger_e

IMG_9290_eUniversity of Tennessee graduate Jade Hoyer’s lithographic print installation…IMG_9220_e_jadehoyer

Select Serigraphics poster designs, combining retro elegance with op art and current bands…IMG_9237_e_selectserigraphics

Norwegian Tom Stian Kosmo’s mezzotint Surrender…IMG_9172_e_tomstiankosmo

Ericka Walker’s vintage style aphorisms…IMG_9333_e_erickawalker

Hannah Skoonberg’s delicate landscapes…IMG_9340_e_hannahskoonberg

Lauren Kussro’s mad seascape installation…IMG_9351_laurenkussro IMG_9350_laurenkussro

Emily Minnie’s printed wallpaper…IMG_9358_emilyminnie Liz Klimek’s printed and folded houses…IMG_9356_lizklimek

Intense subject matter and beautiful prints were paired with generous helpings of food at the private views… (We may be artists but we shall not starve!)

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In town, I also saw a few random print events such as this striped tent with painted beer cans…

IMG_9225_eLetterpress studio The Happy Envelope…

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Tatiana Potts wall installation…IMG_9085_e_tatianapotts

Interesting demos including electronic circuits…

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Brian Gonzales of Illegitimate Press, North Carolina showing off his thermographic ink printsIMG_9438_e_thermochromic

Apart from the displays of work, of which I’ve only photographed a small portion, there were some great talks. Sarah Suzuki of MOMA in NY gave a really lucid talk on the burring of lines between the printed useful object and the printed fine art singular object: illustrating her talk with artists such as Tabaimo who uses the printed aesthetic of Ukiyo-e as an essential flavour to her digitally scanned animations; Gert and Uwe Tobias, whose monumental jigsawed prints are unique rather than multiplied; Ellen Gallagher whose layouts were scanned, printed, scratched, added to painted on and reverted to sculptural form again; Daido Moriyama whose book Printing Show 2011 consists of a selection of digital images that viewers are able to sequence order and print themselves; Qiu Anxiong whose beautiful woodcuts show modern stealth bombers and genetically modified creatures.

Another favourite was Amze Emmon’s talk on print in the built environment, how we are surrounded by buildings which have hoardings, some of which describe the contents, some of which describe what will be there in future, and some of which, particularly in China, which have pictures of photoshopped idyllic landscapes far removed from the migrant worker housing that they shield.

IMG_4090_SGCI_eMy involvement in the lecture programme was on Friday 20th March when the panel I had coordinated gave their talks on the topic of Distortion. Noah Breuer and Julia Lillie talked about distorted materiality, in the mimicking of other techniques such as watercolour, engraving, stains and blood in printed format. John Jacobsmeyer talked about renaissance perspectival striving for an elusive truth, and how this delineates subject from object, which is confounded in contemporary approaches. I gave a survey on the topic of distortion, with our desire to see things and faces where there are none, tricks and marvels of machinery, and what happens when machines contribute a distorted view of the world. Erik Brunvand talked about sonic distortion and how to print with conductive ink to create speakers which were activated through electromagnetic signals. It was fascinating for me to hear what the others have been researching.

We jumped around afterwards making distorted poses to celebrate!!IMG_4097_SGCI_e

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