Oliver Coley, our summer intern from Smith College, wrote the following reaction to our current 16th Annual National Small Works exhibition at WPG. You can read more perspectives from Oliver over the next few days.As I glanced about the National Small Works show, my attention was immediately captured by a small black flip-book on a white pedestal beside a pair of white cloth gloves. The flip-book, named “Wellhole and the Rope” by Arielle Coupe consists of mezzotinted pages that look almost like they were drawn in chalk or white pencil against the black saturated background. As you turn the pages, the stone well and rope remain still, but the form that dips into the well begins to grow two white arrows that split and arch to either side. I have a soft spot for interactive art because I am always having to restrain myself from touching the work at galleries, especially three dimensional work. Furthermore, I never expected to see a flip book at a printmaking show, but the repetitive nature of the medium definitely lends itself to this sequential piece.
Behind Coupe’s flip book, “Clean Escape” by Ashton Ludden hangs on the lefthand side of the gallery. I came across this work when I was unpacking the prints for the National Small Works show, and I was immediately enamored by Ludden’s work. Meat has been a reoccurring subject in my own prints lately, so I am always curious about artists who are drawn to the same subject. Ludden’s so called Meatimals are designed to evoke a sense of cuteness and empathy, as well as to question the divide between the animals we allow to be pets and those we use for food. In this print, the little wrapped sausage Meatimals are piled onto the seat of an armchair, while some of them boost each other onto the arm of the chair. The surroundings and furniture in the room are flawlessly aquatinted, with lifelike creases in the vacuum bag, and highlights that perfectly capture the texture of the chair.
On the other side of the wall from Ludden’s Meatimals hangs Emmy Lingscheit’s “Stationary Breakaway.” This whimsical line etching features nine stationary bikes, beginning small and gestural in the distance and curving around towards the left side of the print. As the bikes become larger and more detailed, I very much enjoyed the variation in shading that allowed the bikes to be rendered in 3D without the use of aquatint. In just the first bike there’s stippling on the chain wheel, hatching on the attached pedals, and crosshatching fading out into small dispersed lines on the rounded back of the bike. In addition, the detail on the mechanics of each bike are absolutely fascinating. The entirety of the National Small Works show was a joy to look at, and I am very sad that this will be my final exhibition as an intern here at the Washington Printmakers Gallery. I have thoroughly enjoyed working here and hope to one day return, whether it’s to see another exhibition, or maybe even as a future member.