Tuesday, February 3, 2009

REVIEW: Bennington College Advanced Student Print Show

Vermont Arts Exchange, Bennington VT
Through February.
By Bret Chenkin

The Vermont Arts Exchange has been a consistent venue for up-and-coming artists for many years. The space is perfect for it — with its high ceilings, bright lights, and accessible wall space. The recent show of Bennington College student work in printmaking is a testament both to the creative tradition at that school and the versatility of the medium. What it also set out to do was expose students to all facets of the art world; they were assigned the task of preparing for the entire exhibit, right down to the hors d’ouevres. Of course, in the art of this generation, the stamp of Warhol, Holzer, and the postmodern penchant for playtime is easy to detect (Selome Samuel, for instance, makes rather prosaic declarations in boldface print on large sheets about the stock market). Some works evince lackadaisical craftwork that is a mortal sin in such a exacting art form we should not be able to see the attempt at applying the print to a base; or one should not draw on the plate when drawing is not their forte, but overall, some talent, or potential, is emerging.
Liz Metsheimer works with photogravure transfers of Italianate, possibly Venetian, architecture, repeating the image of arches and portals for a mysterious effect. Sometimes she has two buildings converging, collapsing perspective, and creating a surreal version of a typical textbook photograph. Andrew Murdoch's Untitled in Blue allows indigos and midnight blues to combat, blur, and bleed over the entire print; evoking an almost caustic line at its edges. He follows the quintessentially modern tendency of expressing amorphous themes in aquatint and line etching. One ambitious artist, Zoe Chevat, created an enormous print of some scale entitled We Continue to Fail which she hung from the ceiling and can be accessed visually from two sides. Todd V. A. did a nice series of etchings intricately rendered and intimate in scale, his Components are like little cells of abstract life.
Overall, this was a heartfelt exhibition by students exploring the gamut of printmaking.

Prints posted are out of an installation of 36 by
artist Margaret Rizzio.