Melding together the ideas of interpretation, representation and traditional practice, Blue Spiral 1’s current exhibition, Ink and Imagery features the works of both well-noted and emerging artists in the field of printmaking.
“I wanted to have prints that have imagery in them, hence the title … that was pretty high up on our list,” says Jordan Ahlers, gallery director at Blue Spiral 1. “We wanted to show the technical abilities. It had to be graphically strong work that was interesting and that had enough of an accessibility through an image for you to start going ‘Well, what is this all about?’”
Ahlers says all artists featured in the exhibition were invited after a long process of filtering through websites as a form of online curating. The regional invitational comprises eight artists, hailing from Georgia, Tennessee, Louisiana, North Carolina, Florida and Virginia.
“There were a lot of artists that we liked,” he says. “But then, it was just trying to look that over again and again and get it down to the core group of what we thought were the strongest. That’s how we ended up with the eight that we have.”
Connie Bostic, the only North Carolina-based artist featured in the show, says that while she doesn’t necessarily consider herself a printmaker, she generally starts with an idea and chooses the medium best suited for representing that idea.
“I think it is a really interesting exhibition. There’s lots of variety,” says Bostic, a longtime Asheville resident, artist and former gallery owner.
Her prints on display come from two bodies of work: one deals with body image and the other with children. Three of Bostic’s pieces feature children outlined in black on a white background and are reminiscent of coloring-book pages.
“I purposely made them look like the pages in a coloring book. The line drawing of a child and what happens to them throughout their lives colors in what they become,” she says.
Bostic’s other two pieces featured in the exhibition are silkscreen prints of Frida Kahlo and Eleanor Roosevelt. Both, Bostic says, are meant to represent the unaltered appearance of two extraordinarily strong and historically relevant women.
The work runs a wide spectrum of topics, as the general theme might suggest. An emerging artist from Virginia, Fleming Jeffries’ colorful series depicts topics such as desertification, iceberg towing and water cycles, Ahlers says.
“All of Fleming’s work deals with primarily the environment and deals with man trying to tame nature in a way,” he says. “I’m pretty excited about her work.”
One of the more well-known artists involved in the exhibition, Ke Francis, has works included in Ink and Imagery that utilize a strong narrative content, says Ahlers.
“A lot of time he uses water in his pieces, kind of a flooding situation and crisis, but they have a lot of humor in them as well,” Ahlers says. “The animals are symbolic of people. A lot of times he uses animals for stand-ins.”
Coinciding with the exhibition’s theme of imagery, Teresa Cole, a professor at Tulane University in New Orleans, has multiple silkscreen pieces on display as part of her Culture Clash series.
“There’s definitely a method to what images she picks,” Ahlers says of the hand-pulled silkscreen prints. “Teresa actually has a textile background, so a lot of her aesthetics and a lot of her sensibility comes from patterns.”
The exhibition also features works by printmakers Tanja Softic, Hannah Skoonberg, Beauvais Lyons and Tom Nakashima.
Considering several of the artists’ works deal with environmental issues, landscape representations and animal symbolism, Ahlers says there is almost a subliminal or subconscious underlying theme that falls in line with both Blue Spiral 1 and the region’s eco-consciousness.
Ahlers said overall viewers’ responses to the printmaking exhibition have been positive.
“I think it’s a little more provocative than some of our other shows,” Ahlers says. “We haven’t done printmaking in a long time.”
— Erin McWhorter is a freelance writer based in Hayesville, N.C.
who: Ink and Imagery
what: Ink and Imagery
where: Blue Spiral 1, 38 Biltmore Ave.
when: Through June 25 (Gallery is open Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Free. bluespiral1.com) Related event: Artist Beauvais Lyons will be part of PechaKucha No. 4 at the Asheville Art Museum on June 9 from 6:30 to 10 p.m. $5. pecha-kucha.org/night/asheville )