Printmaking as a medium has for centuries been associated with the making of flat, editioned images—mostly on paper. Prints are utterly democratic, as they have the potential to create numerous originals that can be widely distributed. However, with the development of the digital cosmos, the potential for editioning and multiplication has become meaningless and nostalgic; nowadays, everything can be transmitted and shared on multiple platforms.
The 19 contemporary printmakers in this exhibition have removed the artificial boundaries around printmaking and have contextualized it as participatory, rather than only a democratic process. Here is a technique that is so porous, it can act like a sculpture and inhabit three dimensions; it can mimic a painted mural as it sprawls across a wall. What’s more, its materiality is astounding.
The prints in this exhibition are on porcelain, recycled wood, and melting ice; they live in the toxic residue left by the contaminated water of Flint, Michigan, and are even inked onto good old fashioned paper—only sideways, on the paper’s less-than-millimeter thick edge. They are built like a puzzle or planted as a garden. Some are architectural; others are biological. Prints were all somehow manipulated—cut, folded, burnt, fired, mounted, recorded, or pasted. All these actions reveal the innate familiarity printmakers have with matters of time, space, gravity, and pressure.