UPCOMING and CURRENT EXHIBITIONS
Five of my mezzotint engravings are currently on view in the group exhibition, Play It Loud, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Mezzanine Gallery. Located above the Museum’s bookstore, the exhibition will be on view through to October 1st, 2019, and, as part of the Museum Store, does not require a Museum admission fee.
My print, Singer II, is currently in a show titled Visions and Revisions, at the Rhode Island School of Art Museum. The exhibition illustrates the continued relevance of traditional techniques by drawing parallels between historical printmakers and contemporary artists who push the medium in new directions. The Museum, located at 20 N. Main Street in Providence, RI, is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 10:00 - 5:00. For more information click on the link http://risdmuseum.org/exhibitions-events/exhibitions/visions-and-revisions.
New Orlean's Stone + Press Gallery is back on line after a post Katrina hiatus and continues to represent artists working in traditional printmaking techniques, particularly mezzotint engraving. Their new website is stoneandpressgallery.com.
There are times when one is wakened in the middle of the night by a full moon dancing in a roiling river of clouds. Other nights, a jungle of ephemeral Datura flowers beckons you to the window. One of the joys of being an artist is being able to render my impressions of such short-lived gifts from The Universe through art.
I love fog. I even love driving in fog. I love the way fog inhales light, swallows sound, caresses your skin, and refracts reality into dreamscapes. Fog is a common phenomenon at my home on the shores of the Hudson River, especially on freaky warm winter nights when melting snow and river air mix. LED streetlights filtering through gossamer veils of condensation form illuminated stages where players quietly cross before evaporating back into the mist.
To evoke the atmospheric effect of low-lying clouds, I scoured the plate with carborundum, an abrasive silicon carbide grit, creating a soft black background from which tones can be worked deductively in the mezzotint manner. Unlike the deep black tones created by rockers, carborundum produces a smoky ground with a grainy texture appropriate for softly defined images. The bare brush and tree limbs were engraved with a burin, while background tones at the edges of the images were darkened with roulettes and small rockers.
To explore how parts of objects can be greater or equal to the whole, I cut old proofs into strips and weave them. The reconstructed compositions may bring out abstracted architectural elements or emphasize the organic or animalistic features of the original subject. Using this approach with my print Machina, a mechanical bird-like figure emerged from the woven gear fragments. Feathers and other avian features were added while engraving an image based on the interlaced strips.
Thinking about our relationship with technology and birds reminded me of Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of a Chinese emperor whose love of a nightingale is usurped by infatuation with a mechanical bird. Eventually the automaton breaks, the emperor becomes sick, and the real nightingale returns from the forest to sing him back to health. In an era of emerging artificial intelligence, the story, and the print, may be interpreted as an allegory about the dangers of warping reality by investing emotions in technological phenomena.
Handel’s Fugue was derived from my print 2002 print Add Infinitum depicting an antique adding machine with looping rolls of paper. That is, I sliced a proof of the older image into one-inch wide strips and wove them as one might interweave cotton loops to make a potholder. New patterns created by the rearranged motifs were redrawn to modify, emphasize, or develop some forms and balance the overall composition.
The title refers to musical fugues in which short phrases or motifs are repeated, inverted, modulated, and interwoven to form contrapuntal compositions. Although Johann Sebastian Bach is perhaps the best-known composer of fugues, his contemporary George Frederick Handel also composed fugues, inspiring a pun on the word “handle,” the image’s most conspicuous element. Altering Add Infinitum from a representational into an abstract image also references use of the word “fugue” as a psychological state of mind associated with loss of identity or breaks from reality.
My interest in outdated machinery often considers the relationship between technology and the evolution of language. Do words read on a screen have the same meaning, credibility, or staying power as words typed, handwritten, or carved in stone? If not, how does the medium alter the message, and what impact does context have on this transformation? These are some of the questions that, along with current events, inspired my mezzotint engraving Press Release.
Press Release, © Carol Wax, 2017, Mezzotint engraving, Image: 15 x 24 inches, Edition 75
OTHER NEW PRINTS
My mezzotints frequently include some burin engraving, but these miniature format engravings are my first executed entirely with the burin. The images were inspired by my graceful Weimaraner, the small 17th century caricature etchings of Jacques Callot, and my love of calligraphic gestures.
Reflect, Repose, Rejoice, Refresh, 2017, Burin engravings, Each image: 2 3/4 x 2 3/4 inches
The prints, published separately, are printed on 7 1/2 x 6-inch sheets of German Etching paper
OTHER NEW WORK
When Earl Retif of New Orlean’s Stone and Press Gallery challenged me to create images inspired by my surroundings in the Hudson Valley, I struggled to find a personal approach. Referencing scenes in photographs forced me to address the dichotomy between reinterpreting documentation of an event, and memory or direct experience. The results combine my love of trompe l’oeil and impressions of light at the river’s edge.
Keep a sketch book, they said. It will be freeing, they said. But everything I do ends up turning into a finished drawing. You can’t fight your creative DNA.