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Review: Elastic medium of printmaking takes center stage at Get This! and Chastain

Atlanta artist Jiha Moon has assembled a national exhibition of prints at Get This! Gallery under the vague rubric “Life Iconic.” The glue connecting these works is not thematic, however. Together they speak to the elasticity of the printmaking medium in the hands of inventive artists. It’s on view through March 6.

Many of the artists blur boundaries and upend expectations. Tim Eads, who makes sculptures, prints, drawings and installations, merges media in “Thank You and Have a Nice Day” (left), a unique sculpture made with screen-printed found material, otherwise known as plastic bags. He presses layers of them to create a wall-hung form that hovers between hard and soft. The words “thank you” printed in red on each bag peek through the translucent white plastic. In fact they glow, thanks to a light behind them. With wit and resourcefulness, the Philadelphia artist has transformed the bags — eco-outcasts stamped with fake retail gratitude — into a strangely compelling piece

Peregrine Honig’s “Father Gander,” a suite of six lithographs with chine-collé, plays against type. Following the format for storybook illustrations, the Kansas City artist recasts familiar fairy tales as contemporary adult morality plays and sociological scenarios. Rapunzel, a semi-nude nymphet with fashionably shorn tresses, incarnates parental fear of a daughter’s sexuality. “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” (below) becomes a tale of date rape: the image depicts Papa Bear carrying her off, and the rhyme reads, “Goldilocks, Goldilocks, what were you thinking — looking for love when you’d been drinking.”

Honig often couches frank sexuality in delicate lines and soft washes, so the storybook theme is a perfect avenue for her. What might come off as button-pushing in other pieces works especially well here, particularly if you buy Freud and Bettelheim: Honig ’s sexualizing of fairy tales only brings forward the subtexts (right down to the forest setting — here a snow-globe-shaped abstraction — as the symbol of the lawless territory of the id) that were already there.

The exhibition includes four of the 156 etchings that Kakyoung Lee made and then used for the accompanying animation, “Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn.” The proportions make reference to Asian scrolls, an old-fangled vehicle to depict movement in time and space. You could say that the New York artist, who recently received a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant, vivifies her line drawings of the crowds that pass through the plaza — skipping children, bicycle riders, clumps of people in overcoats hurrying across the space — in her animation, but the reverse is also true. Though simply limned, the etchings have a life of their own.

Also on view: more than 60 pieces in the Atlanta Printmakers Studio’s Atlanta Juried Printmaking Exhibition, at the newly revived Chastain Arts Center and Gallery through February 11. Juried by High Museum curator Carol Thompson, it is a veritable encyclopedia of printmaking techniques. Among the notable images are two large-scale portraits by young Atlantan Omar Richardson, who also has a piece in “Movers & Shakers” at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia. His layered compositions combine a photograph of a young African-American and a woodcut of a figure in African dress (left), which hovers like a ghost, and a little like a tattoo, on the contemporary portrait: a deconstruction of the term “African-American.”

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