Printworks 2012 shows the genre's newfound diversity. | Features | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Printworks 2012 shows the genre's newfound diversity.

Printmakers today are rediscovering traditional forms as well as taking advantage of new technologies.

Kara Hackenmiller's "Liminal Assemblage"
Kara Hackenmiller's "Liminal Assemblage"

"Rembrandt's Skyscraper," by Michael Loderstedt, occupies one corner of Printwork 2012 at Artists Image Resource. While it is the only sculptural piece in the exhibition, it is not alone in its innovative use of the print medium. As a study in medium, scale, color and form, it pays tribute to an iconic printmaker and at the same time functions as a meditation on contemporary printmaking. According to the artist, it is "comic, ethereal and ascendant," words that could describe a number of pieces in this show.

Juried by Nicholas Chambers, the new Milton Fine Curator of Art at The Andy Warhol Museum, Printwork 2012 presents printmaking as a diverse discipline. Printmakers today are rediscovering traditional forms as well as taking advantage of new technologies.

Printwork 2012 includes a diversity of styles and content. The mix of artists offers some interesting associations. For instance, Loderstedt and Sean P. Morrissey both use screenprint to explore aspects of architecture. And both reduce architecture to minimal detail — floors and facades. But in order to emphasize repetitive pattern, Loderstedt is interested in the way cities focus on grand architecture as spectacle, while Morrissey is interested in the way individuals pursue a "dream home."

Repetition is a tool used by several artists in the exhibition. In Karla Hackenmiller's "Liminal Assemblage," simple repetitive marks accumulate into a complex and dense image. Louise Kohrman also uses a simple mark — here a small circle — to create a repetitive pattern. Rather than fill the page, however, her images in works titled "The Presence of Absence" resemble delicate and minimal webs that cling to the top edge of the paper. Subtlety of repetition is the goal in works by Mandy Fitzgerald. Her "Bubbles and Dirt" and "Clouded Memory" are studies in how little information is necessary to express an idea.

On the flip side are the numerous artists who seek complexity by using layers, collage and the mixing of media. Tom Christison's "Breeding Ball" and "On Holiday" are painterly images that are a jumble of narrative and abstract parts. Like Christison, Lenore Thomas uses multiple layers to build her deceptively simple images. Rhea Nowak, like Thomas, uses Photoshop and manipulates, crops and scans the images in her composition. And Jim Rugg converts his many drawings into hand-assembled notebooks.

Other works of note are Lisa Bulawsky's charmingly eccentric memorial prints, Michael Hegedus's video-game characters and Katie Kaplan's printed fabric. Overall, the exhibition presents an engaging snapshot of printmaking today.

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