I look forward to each Screenprint Biennial exhibition and am honored to be a juror for the 2018 show. It was both thrilling and challenging to jury this exhibition from the many impressive entries we received. As an artist working with screenprint, I was elated to see the diversity with which artists are using the medium, from installation to objects to exquisite works on paper. The overall exhibition showcases that diversity as well as a commitment to challenging subject matter and conceptual intent. Thank you to Nathan Meltz for organizing this exhibition and to all of the artists included for sharing your work.
When looking at the stories in the biennial exhibition, many fall under the shadow of the stark political landscape that is 2018. When biennial artist Alejandro Arauz creates a series of images of himself sitting on top of an ATV with his young daughter, combined with an image of an immigration form applying for Canadian Citizenship (for minors), you can’t help placing it in the context of detained migrant children here in the USA. Far from creating a generalized, didactic piece, Arauz’s images contain so much power by way of their specificity: every immigrant child is someone’s daughter or son. Veteran political graphic artist Josh MacPhee has no problem with the didactic; his Close Rikers/Build Communities yardage print is made as a work of radical political expression. The power (and the story) of this piece comes not simply from the visual object he produces, but in the social action it is a part of: cut up and used in protests as bandanas and armbands. Screenprinting began acting as a medium of social protest with graphics produced by University of Paris student protesters in 1968; MacPhee’s work is a direct descendant of this tradition.
Miranda K. Metcalf
I was so pleased to be invited to juror the 2018 Screenprint Biennial. This event is always a highlight of colour and creativity within the world of contemporary printmaking. This year’s submissions were an outstanding mix of the political, the playful, and the challenging. Featuring several three-dimensional works and installation pieces, artists continue to push the medium and commonly held (mis)conceptions about what it is or should be. Those works, combined with the technical feats in the two-dimensional pieces, create a stunning diversity of imagery that is the married of content and talent that I always look for when jurying an exhibition.
It was both an honor and a delight to serve on a panel of jurors that challenged one another while collectively selecting a range of works with diverse conceptual aims and technical approaches. At the same time, strong aesthetics and high production values were chief concerns for the group. Numerous mixed technique/media pieces were submitted. Given the nature of a screenprint biennial, a tipping point was frequently discussed. How dominant did the screenprinted component(s) need to be? Although all four jurors possess discerning eyes when evaluating print techniques, there were questions as to how these submissions were produced and why screenprinting was integral to the work. This points to some of the challenges of jurying via digital images. Moreover, it speaks to the malleability of screenprinting and its ability to generate a multitude of styles and effects or seamlessly meld into hybrids of techniques or mediums. I would argue that screenprinting, as one of the most accessible print techniques, is predisposed to inviting many to the table— the smorgasbord that is printmaking. The diversity of entries received (as well as the selections we made) attests that screenprint is a technique bursting with possibilities, playing a vital role in field of printmaking as well as the larger sphere of contemporary art.