on March 1, 2008 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Blurring the lines

CLEMSON — Ancient monks did it, and so have stoned hipsters. The art of printmaking evolves fluidly, with archaic techniques coexisting with modern revamps.

The ascension is evident at a new Lee Gallery exhibit, “Proofing Clemson Printmakers.” On display: 80 works from 18 artists. All of the printmakers are Clemson alumni and former students of CU Professor of Art Syd Cross.

“Digital technology has blurred the lines between all the disciplines,” Cross said. “Basically, there’s no longer a division between printmaking and photography, painting and even 3-D aspects.”

Cross and Lee Gallery Director Denise Woodward-Detrich devised the reunion show while thumbing through an old student portfolio. The show name refers to test copies pressed before running a whole line.

To assemble the exhibit, the Clemson art department sent out invites to decades of printmaking grads. “Proofing…” contains works from alum now strewn across the country — including Cleveland, Baltimore, Missouri and Pennsylvania.

Just as rock guitarists idolize Clapton and Hendrix, printmakers have their own deities. In the early-60s, Robert Rauschenberg introduced photographic elements to the medium. He also helped pioneer artistic silk screening, a method previous deployed only in commercial settings.

Andy Warhol — a contemporary of Rauschenberg’s — further advanced the silk screen trend. Of course, Warhol is best known for incorporating images of pop culture, which continues to be a vital element in printmaking. A third vanguard, Jim Dine, was also instrumental in pushing pop art paradigm.

The “Proofing…” material screams divergence. There are woodcuts, silver plate etchings, relief work, linoleum, digital imagery, monotype and even quasi-sculptural pieces.

According to Cross, a Clemson instructor for 26 years, variety is part of the curriculum.

“We take pride in encouraging out students to find their own voice and not subscribe to one school of thought,” said Cross.

Before becoming a reference point herself, Cross studied under master printer Wayne Kimball at Arizona State. Kimball continues to teach today, now at Brigham Young.

While other mediums, like painting, are quite portable, printmaking requires heavy-duty equipment.

“It’s not like you can carry a press under your arm,” Cross said.

While co-op presses are common in larger cities, printmakers in rural settings often struggle for gear. That’s not an issue at Clemson. The university is home to five presses, including a 5-foot-by-8-foot etching press — one of the largest in the East.

“Printmakers without ample access can bypass the press via monotype or relief printing,” Cross said.

Jennifer Stoneking-Stewart, 25, is among the artists featured in “Proofing…” Now a teacher at Carson-Newman College, Stoneking-Stewart leans toward graphic output. Her work represents a clash between organic and geometric forces.

“The reason I love the medium is the process and how technically aware you have to be,” Stoneking-Stewart said. “I am an engineer’s daughter, so rules and a process to get a satisfactory result really speak to that side of me. It’s like a mathematical equation, A plus B equals C, but if you leave out B, you won’t get C.”

For inspiration, Stoneking-Stewart looks to nature, science and even the evening news.

“My work as a result, is showing how I perceive the world,” she said.


“Proofing Clemson Printmakers”

March 4 – April 3

Lee Gallery



(864) 656-3883