Sweet Briar College will open its exhibition “Material, Method, Medium: Relief and Intaglio Prints from the Permanent Collection” with a reception at 5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24, in Pannell Gallery.
The selection features an eclectic mix of prints by American and international artists, including famous names, such as Pablo Picasso and Roy Lichtenstein, path-breaking women, such as Anni Albers and Judy Pfaff, and young innovators, such as Jean Shin and Tara Donovan.
In keeping with other recent art shows in Pannell Gallery, “Material, Method, Medium” is drawn completely from Sweet Briar’s teaching collection, which offers students the opportunity to study art in person without traveling somewhere.
“Not all undergraduate colleges our size have such a wonderful resource conveniently available on campus,” said Sweet Briar Galleries director Karol Lawson.
This time, however, there’s one difference.
As its name suggests, the exhibit is not focused on a unifying theme, but on materials and techniques.
“We will focus here on intaglio-engravings, etchings and the like — and relief prints, in a selection of thirty of the collection’s boldest and most complex works on paper,” Lawson noted.
“We are trying to get people to really look, and to figure out how something’s been made.”
And it’s not always easy to tell. From letter-size black-and-white linocuts to intricate 8-foot collographs, the exhibit showcases the many different ways in which prints can be created. Some are made from engraved images, others from the object itself — such as a lily pad or a pair of jeans.
In Donovan’s case, it’s bubbles of ink and etching acid on a metal plate, using the bubbles in place of an engraving burin to create the image.
Printmaking is a fairly recent endeavor for the New York native, who is best known for site-specific installation art. Using toothpicks, paper plates, pencils, twist-ties, drinking straws and Dixie cups, Donovan “transform[s] utterly mundane materials into mesmerizing, almost ethereal, visions,” Lawson said.
Donovan had her first solo exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in 1999 and came to national attention with her inclusion in the 2000 Biennial Exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art. In 2001, Donovan was the Augustus Saint-Gaudens Memorial fellow and soon thereafter received a residency with Atelier Calder in France. In 2008, the MacArthur Foundation awarded her a prestigious grant recognizing her professional achievements. That same year, Donovan was also given her first major museum retrospective at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston.
“Material, Method, Medium” is on view until April 7. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (434) 381-6248.