Vacation = Work

This Thanksgiving Break my wife and I decided to stay at our home here in Columbia, MO rather than going to visit family for the holiday. There’s a lot going on for us, and for my work in particular. There’s no time to take a break.

I’ve got three significant shows coming up. The first is a wonderful show at the University of Mary Washington Ridderhof Martin Gallery in Fredericksburg, VA. The exhibition is titled SHADES OF GRAY: Drawings in Graphite and will run from January 21 – February 25, 2011. I’m particularly excited about this exhibition as Joann Moser, Senior Graphics Curator from the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, will be presenting a lecture and placing the work on view in context. Below is one of the four works of mine that will be included in the show.

Anthropology (Conceits of Knowledge #3), graphite on paper, 38 by 42 inches, 2008.

The next show I’m involved in is a solo show at the Barrington Center for the Arts at Gordon College just outside of Boston, MA. The show is titled Redeeming Tensions and will feature approximately 40 paintings, mezzotint prints, and drawings. It’s the largest show I’ve ever attempted. It will run from February 5 through March 19, 2011. Below are two of mezzotint plates I’ve been working this week. The finished works will be printed and appear in the show.

Lamentations Chapter 3 Verse 8, copper mezzotint plate, 2010.

Lamentations Chapter 3 Verse 14, copper mezzotint plate, 2010.

The final major show I’m involved in will be a two-person exhibition at the 930 Art Center in Louisville, KY with Tim Lowly, one of the most amazing representational painters working today. It is an extreme honor to be asked to show with him, and I am super excited about our show of tondos. I’ve got some work for this show underway but since it’s a while until the show opens I want to keep that under wraps – the run should be June 17 – July 31, 2011.

So, as you can see, I don’t have time to take vacations from the things I love, the things I’m passionate about… and I wouldn’t want to. Faith, family, art making, community, teaching; I life for and in and through these things. They may all seem like cliches to some people, but I’ve got a full life and a full plate. I love it and I am thankful for it.

Ideal Forms

As if I didn’t have enough to do (60 piece solo show to prep for, summer teaching, fall teaching, writing, shows, reading, service to students and church, loving my wife and being a new dad, seamlessly integrating the domestic and the transmundane, all the while calling out to others on the mythic quest for a transcendent evocative intersubjectivity), I’ve also started a new series of works; guess I’m a glutton for punishment. I actually think it all keeps me on point…

In any case, I’m contemplating the notion of ideal forms. Some of this springs from my interest in the trans-historic and very influential Platonic Solids, which I’ve talked about a lot in the past. With these works, I’ve taken physical shapes I’ve created for my painting and drawing students to work from and begun investigating why I have my students focus on them. In the future I’ll enumerate some of the reasons why I’m (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) calling them “ideal.”

Ideal Form 02 (Mixed Media Variant), Mezzotint print and gouache on Hahnemuhle paper, 7 inches in diameter, 2010. Click to see large version.

Ideal Form 01, Mezzotint print on Hahnemuhle paper, 5 inches in diameter, 2010. Click to see large version.

Some Current Projects

A (detail of a) commission in graphite…

A (detail of a) commission in charcoal…

Continuing my Lamentations 3 series of mezzotints… Verse 4 is above (reversed to show how it’ll print).

And framing a drawing for friends; I created the drawing (in 2008) as an illustration for a poem.

MAGNITUDE 7 at Manifest

My work, titled Galaxy (Shell, Fecundity, Emanation), will be seen at the 6th annual MAGNITUDE 7 exhibition at Manifest coming up at the end of this month. The piece is a mezzotint print that has been embossed with a unique collograph print.

And here’s my statement about the work for the show:

Over the last two years I have become increasingly enamored with the mezzotint printmaking process. I have used mezzotint as a way to find new and different access to some of the subject matter I have used for years in my paintings and drawings. Bricks, shells, geometric forms, and bodies have all become part of my mezzotint repertoire. Those geometric forms – specifically the Platonic solid called the dodecahedron – have begun to inform my mezzotints beyond simple representation; I have started using the angles of the dodecahedron and its constituent, the pentagon, as dimensional embossments upon the mezzotint prints.

In the work I present here at MAGNITUDE 7, titled Galaxy (Shell, Fecundity, Emanation), the beautiful gradients and milky consistency mezzotint is known for are used to display a shell, spinning in an amorphous space. Yet a fine tracery of lines and angular counterpoints shifts the surface level of the image itself, creating a bas-relief. The angles are formed using a collograph print over the final mezzotint. This collograph is a unique, one-time embossment; though the edition of mezzotints is all the same, the embossment seen in each print is one of a kind.

By embedding these angles (taken directly from the dodecahedron) onto the image of the spiral form shell, I reintegrate their inherent relationship, since both the spiraling of the shell and the angles of the quintessential Platonic solid display the natural mathematical beauty of Phi, the golden ratio. While the depiction of the shell can be a visual entry point for contemplation, the angles of the subtle embossment encode a physical reality into the artifice of the image. This duality is something I am hoping to develop more and more. I want the image and the icon, the depiction and the object, the picture of the idea and the idea itself, to become manifest in these prints as I continue them.

Mezzotint Rocking Deck

I’ve been working on an apparatus to help me streamline and control my mezzotint copper plate preparation. In moving toward the incarnation you see in this post I built 3 other models, each one becoming more and more refined and tweaking elements that didn’t seem to work.

Ultimately what I wanted was a rotating deck that would keep the copper plate stable and offer ease of movement through the different angles one has to use to rock the plate properly.

The rocking deck would also need a secure place for the rocker itself, and a place to keep the blade protected when not in use. The sheath I built on the forward end of the deck holds the rocking blade without contacting the serrated edge of the blade at all.

Learn more about mezzotint here. See some of my mezzotint work here. Two really great mezzotint artists are Michelle Rozic and Stewart Duffin. Check them out.

New Lamentations Mezzotints on the Way

I’ve got a show coming up next Spring at Gordon College in Wenham, MA. Though I’ll be presenting 50 or more works, a good portion of them will consist of mezzotint prints. I’m well on my way to completing the group I want to exhibit; the prints will follow the imagery from Lamentations chapter 3, verses 1 – 20. Below I’m posting some shots of the newer plates – click the title to read the verse.

Verse 1

Verse 7

Verse 9