Alma College Print Competition on Display
Entries and winners in the 24th Annual Alma College Print Statewide Competition are on display through Dec. 9 in the Flora Kirsch Beck Gallery in the Clack Art Center on the Alma College campus. Admission is free. Gallery hours are Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
24th Annual Alma College Statewide Print Competition
November 15 ? December 9, 2004
Review by Carrie Anne Parks
When Hugh Merrill, juror for the 24th Annual Alma College Statewide Print Competition and professor of art at the Kansas City Art Institute, viewed the 158 prints submitted by 65 Michigan printmakers, he saw works that were "at the heart and center" of contemporary printmaking in terms of the artists' concern for traditional print aesthetics and for the craft of making prints.
He selected 52 prints by 39 artists, and feels that "the show portrays really well the idea of printmakers as the creators of images based on their own idiosyncratic and eccentric visions." He was also excited to see a high degree of technical exploration and mixing of media. Crossing points between photography and printmaking, drawing and printing, and various kinds of collage are evident in the prints selected for this exhibition.
Merrill noted the number of political works in the show ? another tradition in the field of printmaking and, in an election year, an area of strong interest for many artists. Bruce Thayer's Downer Cow, which won the $1,000 Best of Show Award from the President and Friends of Alma College, reminds him of the work of Sue Coe, because of the artists' shared value system. However, instead of the "darkness" of Coe's work, Thayer works with the lighter, more ironic sense of the Chicago School and combines "a sense of openness and space with good drawing." In Downer Cow, a large red/purple cow's head floats above figures of a musician, a woman, another cow, and a frieze of stamped images of barns and other agricultural symbols. Written along the bottom edge of the print is the rhyme, "It's in the feed, not the breed Downer Cow. You eats the meats without a care, now see the stare."
Camille Hamilton, whose woodcut, Nomad, won the $500 Senator Leo J. Rozier Award, works in a very different way, combining sensitivity to her medium with an adventurous eye for color and composition. In Nomad, large colored ovals and circles move on an off-white surface that is subtly textured with white marks and bordered with thin, amber edges. Merrill commented on Hamilton's professional handling of the paper and her sensitive layering of color within a simple matrix.
Ann Rataj's deeply etched print, One Still Moment of Now, won the $500 Janet Gallup Award. Merrill admired her ability to really work the plate and to combine a sense of the physicality of her work with the metal with the illusion of spacial movement and depth. The partially inked white spaces enliven the darker areas of this black and white print, creating a dramatic range of values that enhances the narrative content suggested by the figures placed in architectural spaces.
Archimago, a vandyke brown print by Rebecca Zeiss, won the $400 Alumni of the Department of Art & Design Award. This large print is constructed of smaller panels arranged to create mirror images of reflective spheres and ladder structures that are, at the same time, machine-like and mysterious.
Other works singled out for mention by Merrill were the cartoon-like, yet strongly stated, political images in Brett Colley's Peace Talks I and II. He also enjoyed Abbigail Ismelsen's untitled intaglio with a printmaker's tools ? gloves and brushes - printed on the thin, brown paper from which sewing patterns are made. A Very Quiet Place, a mezzotint by Kathleen Jenovai, received praise for her sensitive work with a very exacting, older printmaking technique. And he was drawn to Crude Prevod, a small collagraph by Mirislav Cukovic that, seen from a distance, is a dark, heavy abstraction, but on closer viewing, depicts a figure and "rich and fierce drawing."
Following the closing of the exhibition at Alma College on December 9, the 24th Alma Annual Statewide Print Competition will tour Michigan art centers until September 2005:
Jan. 10?29, 2005 Adrian College, Adrian, Mich.
April 10?May 6, 2005 Jordan River Arts Council, East Jordan, Mich.
June 16?July 21, 2005 William Bonifas Art Center, Escanaba, Mich.
Aug. 5?27, 2005 Birmingham Bloomfield Art Association, Birmingham, Mich.
by the four artists who received purchase awards will become part of
the Alma College Permanent Collection at the close of the exhibition's
tour. A catalog of the exhibition is available by writing to Sandy
Lopez-Isnardi, Exhibition Coordinator, Alma College Department of Art
and Design, 614 West Superior Street, Alma, MI 48801 or by calling
Carrie Anne Parks is a professor in the Alma College Department of Art and Design.
Posted: Mon, November 15th, 2004 at 12:11PM