Print Group at the Merrick
April 14, 2009
Fifteen member artists had their work exhibited at the Print Group's show at the Merrick Art Gallery in New Brighton, Pa., from March 1 through March 22. The show was organized by John Hanna, Print Group president and a member of the Merrick Board of Directors, with help with hanging and tear down from Sharon Wilcox, Paula Garrick Klein and Megan O'Brien.
Artists showing were: John Dorinsky, Sharon Wilcox, Megan O'Brien, Chris Calligan, Sandy Kessler Kaminski, Eileen Yeager, Fumina Hora, Paula Garrick Klein, Thomas J. Norulak, John Hanna, Sun Young Kang, Marsha Fidoten, Nancy Flury Carlson, Judi Charlson and Susan Winocur.
For those of you who were unable to get to see the show, it was held in the Merrick's main gallery, where most of the gallery's permanent collection of late 18th and 19th century paintings are displayed salon style. The Print Group's 43 contemporary prints provided an interesting complement to the museum's extensive collection of realistic and romantic American and European art.
The Print Group invited Beaver County high school art students to show their prints in a separate area in the same gallery. Sixteen pieces were submitted from four schools. Although the quality of all of the student works in general was judged to be quite high, the Print Group handed out four Juror's Awards, each of which carried a $25 honorarium.
The PPG show was well-received by the Merrick and attracted a high number of visitors. Thanks to all who participated in this show.
SYMBOLON: SYMBOLS AND SELF asks printmakers to approach the concept of personal symbolism by depicting self through a combination of both literal and symbolic likeness.
The word symbol is derived from the Greek word symbolon. Ancient Greece was full of tricksters, robbers and con men. A man who wanted to pass a true message to a friend who lived many miles away had a problem. The solution was to use a "symbolon." The one sending a message deliberately broke an object in two and gave half to his friend before he left. If the messenger brought the other half of the object and they fit together, then the messenger was the right person and the message true. The half of the shard he kept and the half he gave to his friend was a symbolon.
Symbols are implied or obvious, universal or personal. Throughout history, artists have expressed or evoked particular emotions and ideas either by choosing representational objects or images, or by stressing the symbolic value of line, shape, color, and form to evoke a state of mind or to communicate otherwise inexpressible visions of reality.
Printmaking has, at its very heart, a sort of identity crisis. The printmaker puts hours of effort into working a metal plate, slab of limestone, plank of wood or block of linoleum. But in the end these objects are cast off - they are only the necessary negatives, the parents from which the real prints are born. The parents may be more solid, more real than the prints themselves, but finally the image is what matters, peeled off, disembodied almost, into a thin sheet of paper. But the question still lingers: which of these is the original? Which is a symbol of the other?
The premise of this show goes right to the heart of this uncanny process by asking artists to pull a print of their own image - to somehow embody themselves in a print.
So, these prints try every angle and every degree of abstraction to get at the subject. They are full of moments of doubling, reflection, repetition, fragmentation and reintegration - collectively they imply that making an image of oneself is no easy affair, that it requires a good deal of courage to interrogate oneself, grapple with conflicting self-images, and find an adequate stand-in for oneself. Many of the resulting images are complex, using multiple schemes for representing multiple sides of the self, though a few attempt to boil the image down to a single body double.
The resulting symbolons ask us to extrapolate back to their authors, to discover the qualities, thoughts and decisions that will lead us to get a sense of something as irreducibly unique as a self.