You still have this week to catch the second Atlanta Print Biennial, featuring a wide array of styles and printmaking techniques. On view through December 7 at Barbara Archer’s temporary location at Erikson Clock, the Goat Farm’s satellite space in Castleberry Hill, the event was organized by Atlanta Printmakers Studio, a nonprofit organization that provides studio space and equipment to renters and public outreach events.
The works were selected by Beauvais Lyons, professor of art at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, an institution known for its top-ranked printmaking department. At the November 15 opening, seven winning works were selected from the 59 on view. Those works will be acquired by the Atlanta Printmakers Studio, the University of Tennessee’s Ewing Gallery, and the High Museum of Art, and the artists are given other nominal prizes, like gift certificates from Utrecht art supply store.
Though there are some innovative examples, most of the prints were made by such traditional techniques such as intaglio. Art Werger, a modern master of mezzotint, was one of the winners, for his multi-plate submission displaying several vignettes of human gestures. In other cases, printmaking seems like more of a suggestion. Guen Montgomery’s enormous work, Portrait of the Artist’s Cousin from Tennessee, employs a painterly monoprint on a garish brocade rug of a woman resembling Marie-Antoinette.
In the only three-dimensional piece included, Sisterhood, by Memphis-based Eszter Augustine-Sziksz, two ghostly human faces are made with the difficult technique of paper casting. Chadwick Tolley’s Mama Wolf, another awardee, has a highly stylized, naive quality that references such artists as Jockum Nordström.
Printmaking conveys both the perfect and the imperfect in a way that resonates with the DIY and Etsy generation. Some of the weaker examples are technically sound but tend to rehash tired forms and fall short in engaging contemporary culture. Fresher examples include Moscow, by awardee Frol Boundin, which seamlessly combines serigraphy and relief with digital print.
Printmaking wrongly somehow always has a burden of proof that painting and other media don’t. The works on view here suggest that pushing boundaries is good, but that printmaking will always honor the technical integrity of traditional hand-pulled prints.