Exhibit blends old and new art

by Jake Kapsner

As an observer walks into the Katherine E. Nash Gallery in Willey Hall, a sample of the ancient technique of woodcut printing hangs on a wall at right, while 20th century digital prints hang on the left.
Elements of traditional and cutting edge artistry are part the Gallery’s Second National Print Biennial Exhibition, which opened yesterday. The official reception will be held from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Friday. The exhibit will stay open until April 24.
The 76-print installation features internationally recognized, as well as University print artists.
Judges chose from a field of 875 slides submitted by artists from 44 states. The two-person judging panel was balanced with curating experience and solid visual ability, said exhibit director Jerald Krepps.
The creative medium for the prints ranges from monotype (printing on Plexiglas) and lithograph to digital photo inkjet, and other more incorporative techniques.
“This installation has a traditional look, but at the same time it deals with contemporary technique and aesthetic,” said Krepps, who is also an associate professor in the University’s art department.
He said the emphasis is to promote alternative formats and shed light on evolving technologies.
A pair of prints by Rick Love, a University graduate student, have blended these new methods with the old. Krepps calls Love a part of the new generation of printmakers who use computers to draw images, then finish their prints traditionally.
Love said he likes the rapid flow of computer design in his artistic process. The advantage of computers is the ability to make quick decisions to add or delete material, he said.
But Krepps said he prefers using traditional techniques in his own prints. “I’m like a puppy being broke to leash,” he said of the new technologies.
Another more traditional example of printmaking in the exhibit is seen in James Boyd-Brent’s itaglio work, “Mississippi Highwater,” which is a dark image of industry lining the river made by layers of etching.
University student Tamara Rusinova stopped by to see Boyd-Brent’s print. He is her instructor of Design Process Drawing at the St. Paul campus.
“To know that he’s coming not from just theory, but that he’s practicing. That’s inspiring,” Rusinova said.
The exhibit attracted national attention — like printer Warrington Colescott, whose vibrantly colored prints depict a cynical, comic take on society.
Artist Fred Hagstrom’s massive wood and plastic relief cuts, also on display, have expressionist influences and strong color relationships.
“Hopefully this will stimulate interest, because that’s what I’m trying to do — to let people see what’s happening in the world of printmaking today,” Krepps said.