Tuesday, October 29, 2013

2013 North American Print Biennial

The 2013 North American Print Biennial runs through Dec. 20th.
808 Gallery, 808 Commonwealth Ave, Boston

Juror Denis Michael Jon, Associate Curator of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts selected prints from a rather large pool of 900 contemporary artists and considered over 2400 works for inclusion into this edition of the Biennial.  As an artist under consideration when we are not included we tend to shrug off rejection and move on with our work but when our work is selected we tend to think of the curator as possessing a keen eye indeed to recognize our genius.



Since a good deal of my time is spent on proposals, residency applications and grants I receive rejection emails often enough that I almost overlooked the one notifying me of inclusion in this years Biennial. I think it was only after hearing Jon's lecture prior to the opening of the Biennial that I realized the daunting task of coming up with 135 works representative of contemporary printmaking.

Additionally, Jon's lecture helped solidify some of the problems I have with identifying with the description "Printmaker". I've always thought of myself of artist first and at any one time may have works in progress that span a variety of media. Interestingly enough Jons' spoke of selecting works that not only were representative of the various techniques of printmaking but also looked for pieces that help expand the definitions.  If I'm gleaning his context, it is one of recognizing some push back of artists against print based works being considered a secondary or lesser discipline due to their nature as multiple originals, smaller and generally grounded on paper.

The same qualities that may make a work appeal to young collectors or a wider audience acts as a double edge sword as a marginalizing factor in an art market driven by the unique, very large and very expensive.  Boston Universities 808 Gallery was a large venue that provided space for artists who were pushing scale and working with more sculptural forms.

First view of the Biennial

Jon's selections for the 2013 Biennial included both examples of technical mastery and experimental.

Stephen McMillan - Misty Morning - aquatint

Philip Laber - House of Cards - intaglio and inkjet


If the crowds at the opening were any indication, works on paper and the continuing evolution of printmaking is still prized.  As pointed out by Jons' in his opening remarks; innovation, risk taking and the ability of non specialized artists making use of new technologies to make surprising strides in re-defining the print is evident in this years Biennial. 

Denis Michael Jon - Curator Profile link


Biennial Link - gallery directions, hours 

Photobooth Kabuki at the 2013 North American Print Biennial
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