The most recent exhibition at UMKC’s Fine Arts gallery is a varied collection of prints from Hand Print Press.
Following the 21st annual Hand Print Press National Print Exhibition, UMKC has opened its doors to show the finalists. The show features a diverse assortment of pieces varying in style and execution. Hand Print Press is a collective of printmakers working through the Department of Art and Art History. The group provides local artists with a work space as well as the special equipment needed for printmaking. The collective also helps orchestrate connections between the studio and the university.
Walking into the gallery, the viewer encounters the selection of prints of varying sizes and colors scattered about the walls. A series of five small pieces on the wall opposite the entrance is particularly noticeable. The pieces, each framed in a small wooden shadow box measuring approximately six by six inches, depict various exotic flowers crafted from paper and printed with various designs. Known as “Starburst Pinwheels” by artist Jill Parisi, the series crosses the barrier between printed media and sculpture. The pieces exhibit calm while simultaneously alluding to botanical research, resembling a collection rare flower specimens. The arrangement is neat and tidy, with each box evenly spaced.
Many of the other works are printed onto flat surfaces, much like posters. In the furthest corner in the gallery space, a compilation of prints are arranged along the interconnecting walls. Each is framed in a pale wooden frame unifying the works even though they are by different artists. The printed images vary, but each is thoughtful and intriguing. One depicts a half-folded fan adorned with a detailed and vibrant pattern and outlined in thick black lines
The methods used by the artists differ from piece to piece. Some are etchings – a printing technique that involves carving the desired image into a metal plate and then dipping it in acid. The technique allows for fine detail. An interesting use of etching comes in the form of Jill Fitterer’s “Presence Absence.” Strung along the wall, Fitterer’s work consists of twenty small squares of paper hung in a line like a “Happy Birthday” banner. Each square is mustard yellow and decorated with amorphous shapes that look like fingerprints.
Screen printing is a method used by the artists in the show. It uses dark room equipment like emulsion fluid that, when coated onto a mesh screen and exposed to UV light, creates a stencil to push ink through. This technique is most notably utilized in Brett Groves’ “Correspondence 04 (One Fare),” which simply depicts an opened international postage envelope. Groves creates subtle, realistic colors and fine detail by using an eight-layer screen print.
The Hand Print Press exhibition at the UMKC Fine Arts Gallery is a fascinating and wonderful display of current talent in the world of contemporary printmaking.