Needles are often used. As are acidic baths. And two rollers. And a flat bed. And, of course, a lot of ink. In isolation, some of these details sound sinister. When combined, it reads as more labor intensive. The outcome is an intaglio print — a process that involves scraping a copper or zinc plate to create patterned pits and grooves to hold ink that is later transferred to a high quality cotton paper.
It’s an art form that first became popular in Europe during the 15th century and one that is still practiced today (although perhaps not as prolifically as, say, painting or photography). “The equipment is not terribly accessible,” says printmaker Laura Ladendorf. “It’s harder for people to get working in the field.”
Kristalyn Bunyan, a fellow printmaker, agrees that the form can present challenges, but adds, “It can also rely on pretty basic processes.” She points to mono printing and rubbings, which “can [be done] in your kitchen.”
Ladendorf and Bunyan are both members of an informal group of artists known as the Asheville Printmakers Group. Ladendorf works in relief and screen prints while Bunyan deals mainly in monotypes and gum arabic. Once a month, these makers meet at the West Asheville library to discuss their various practices and projects. The group hosts its second exhibition, New Ink, at the Madison County Arts Center.
“I think the most exciting thing about this [exhibit] is a lot of the work is being created specifically for this show,” says Erich Hubner, program director at the Madison County Arts Council. “It’s not like a bunch of work that’s been sitting around. A lot of the work will debut at this show.”
New Ink runs through Friday, July 29, and will feature the works of more than 15 printmakers. These will include monotypes, relief, intaglio and alternative photographic prints. “I think that’s one of the most interesting aspects,” says Ladendorf. “You don’t see a group of printmakers have a show very often.”
An opening-night discussion included talk of the Asheville Printmakers collective. “We came up with the idea that it would be beneficial to get printmakers in the community to form an interest group,” says Kato Guggenheim. She and her husband, Fred, spearheaded the organization two-and-a-half years ago. “I think, as artists, we tend to work alone,” she says. “But we have a lot to learn from each other — ideas, techniques, materials, resources, event feedback and suggestions about our work, and friendships. Ours is not a competitive group but one that is there to respect and support each other and our work.”
WHAT: New Ink: Asheville Printmakers group show, ashevilleprintmakers.org
WHERE: Madison County Arts Center, 90 S. Main St., Marshall
WHEN: On exhibit through Friday, July 29