This past Friday, September 26, during a walk in downtown Troy, I visited the Arts Center of the Capital Region to see the latest exhibition, the East Coast National Screenprint Biennial. The purpose of the showcase is not to show off the best of the best of screenprinting, rather, its intention is to bring notice to screenprinting as an art medium worth discussion and features artists who use screenprinting in inventive and interesting ways. This goal was absolutely achieved; this is probably the best art showcase you will experience this year.
For those who may not know, screenprinting is a printing technique that uses a mesh and stencil to transmit an image onto a surface. Prior to this show, my knowledge of screenprinting and uses was limited. My only connections to the practice was through Andy Warhol’s works and old posters, both of which employed screenprinting. However, I was blown away by just how diverse the works at the gallery were. The presented artwork was not limited to the walls or as flat imagery. When I entered the gallery, I immediately noticed pieces on the walls, hanging from the ceiling, laying on the ground, on pedestals, and one even plugged into the wall! The diversity of the images was staggering and really expanded my understanding of how screen printing could be used artistically.
When the mission statement pointed out that the artists and pieces were chosen based on their use of the medium rather than just the artists’ merits, it is truly reflected in the show. The piece that plugged into the wall used electrically sensitive ink to produce sounds based on where the viewer touched a wire to the work this was a level of interaction with an artwork I was not expecting from this show. Another work involved the printing of textures onto a paper that was arranged to create a 3-Dimensional house, showing off the versatility of screenprinting I was not aware of. As well, the pieces around the room used different printing materials like fine made Japanese Paper, canvas, and mylar. Some of the works were not even the screenprints themselves but pictures of screenprints being installed in public spaces.
It is one of the most fun and inventive gallery shows I’ve been to this year, and at the low, low cost of free admission, it’s hard to find an excuse to miss this exhibition. If you find yourself downtown, stop by The Arts Center of the Capital Region at 265 River Street and expand your knowledge and create an appreciation of screenprinting.