Lasting Impressions: Showcasing the Possibilities of Print

View of Lasting Impressions Vitrine Exhibit, Webster Library. Photo by Emma Bell / The Concordian

Webster library hosts a retrospective exhibition from Concordia’s special edition program.

As students begin to use the Webster library during the first few weeks of the school year, some may notice the vitrine display to the left of the entrance stairs. Concordia’s special editions program within the Print Media Department currently has a temporary exhibition on display titled Lasting Impressions. Founded in the 1990s by Judy Garfin and Cheryl Kolak, the program “fosters creative, collaborative and pedagogical opportunities for visiting artists, master printers and students.” This exhibit was curated by Director Erika Adams and showcases a retrospective collection of works produced over the past couple of decades that demonstrate the breadth of techniques that artists have engaged with. 

The printmaking techniques range from lithography to screen printing, and each artist contributed a unique visual language to the body of work.

Lithography is a fairly complicated method that takes advantage of the way water naturally repels oil. A drawing made on a textured, stone surface with oil based materials is etched into the surface through a chemical process. Once the oily image is fixed onto the stone, the artist will pass a wet sponge over the surface before rolling on an oil-based ink. With the properties of oil and water at work, the ink will only stick to the oily image, while the watery negative space remains clean. The artist can now transfer the image onto paper by running it through a printing press. 

The nature of lithography allows for a more detailed result—every mark made by the artist will appear in the final print, thus there is more opportunity for value, complicated linework, and an overall painterly appearance. Take Betty Godwin’s 2003 Escape for example: at a glance, this print appears to be a drawing. This simple lithograph features a diving figure whose elongated body is rendered with a quick hand. The diver’s limbs are mere suggestions constituted of hasty linework and smudged ink. A quiet object, perhaps a pillar, in the background softly emerges through more linework. This level of delicacy, texture, and value beautifully captures the possibilities of this method. 

Betty Goodwin, Escape, 2003, Lithography on paper, 46 x 31 cm, printed by Chris Armijo. Photo By Emma Bell / The Concordian

In contrast, silkscreen printing, or serigraphy, lends itself toward the bright and the graphic. A method of choice for poster artists and activists, this printmaking technique favours boldness. The process involves separating an image into colour layers and turning those layers into stencils. The stencils are then fixed to a stretched silk screen, where the artist will then pass over with a squeegee to transfer the ink onto the paper layer by layer until the image is complete. Pierre Dorian’s 2008 print Stairs aptly demonstrates this technique. The bold lines, solid colours and overall graphic qualities of the staircase are highly characteristic of serigraphy.

Pierre Darian, Stairs, 2008, Silkscreen on paper, 76 x 62 cm, Printed by Mikael Petraccia. Photo by Emma Bell / The Concordian

The discipline of printmaking values the process of creation just as much, if not more, than the final print itself. As you spend some time with the works here, try to notice both the limitations and possibilities of each method and how it complements the subject matter.
Lasting Impressions will remain in Concordia’s Webster library until September 25, 2023.


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