The art of the print to be highlighted on campus and across the city

Printopolis, an international symposium on printmaking organized by Open Studio, a Canadian printmaking centre, rolls into Toronto Oct. 21 to 24, and York people will play an important part..

Open Studio is an artist-run centre dedicated to the production, preservation and promotion of contemporary original fine art prints, and is hosting Printopolis to mark its 40th year of operation. In addition to more than 40 exhibitions highlighting contemporary print media works, this city-wide event features issue-based panel discussions and presentations, artist talks and printmaking demonstrations.

The Department of Visual Arts in York University’s Faculty of Fine Arts joins the celebration of print culture with Printapalooza! curated by Professor Barbara Balfour, head of the department’s Print Media Area. This exhibition of works by recent graduates and current graduate students is on view at the Gales Gallery from Oct. 18 to 29. It showcases the young artists’ diverse approaches to working with a wide range of creative expression and technologies in print media.

Right: Barbara Balfour’s
Living & Dying
, 2010, lithograph, 15 x 21 inches (Detail). Photo: Tom Blanchard

Featured artists include alumni Kiki Athanassiadis (MFA ‘08), Nadine Bariteau (MFA ‘07), Alda Escareño (BA ‘08), Shannon Gerard (MA ‘06), Alison Judd (MFA ‘06), Nicole Liao (BFA Hons. ’03), Jennifer Linton (MFA ‘10), Eric Mathew (MFA ‘07) , Kate McQuillen (MFA ‘09), Carolyn Self (BFA Spec. Hons. ‘08), Mark Small (BFA Spec. Hons. ‘07), Jenny Suddick (MFA ‘09) and Daryl Vocat (MFA ‘01), and current MFA students Margarita Macdonald and Logan MacDonald.

The Gales Gallery, located on the main floor of the Accolade West Building at York’s Keele campus,  is open Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm. Visitors are invited to meet the artists at a reception Thursday, Oct. 28 from 5:30 to 7:30pm.

Printapalooza! is one of dozens of concurrent exhibitions affiliated with Open Studio’s Printopolis, taking place at commercial, public and educational galleries across the GTA.

“Open Studio has done an amazing job of raising the profile of print-based artists in Canada,” said Balfour. “I’m proud of the strong association that the Print Media Area in our department has with Open Studio, and I’m happy that we can contribute to their 40th anniversary celebration by showcasing work by recent graduates of our program.”

Left: Beside Herself: Alda Escareño and Carolyn Self’s creation Pocketknives, 2010, screen printing on laser-cut birch plywood

The connection between Open Studio and York’s Print Media Area runs deep. Many of the York alumni participating in Printapalooza! have been members, visiting artists, teachers and professional printers at Open Studio. Several have been recipients of the Don Phillips Scholarship, a juried award for students that allows rent-free access to the Open Studio facilities for one year after graduation, as well as assistance with materials, professional development, workshops and exhibitions.

Balfour, an artist, curator and writer who has exhibited her prints, multiples and installations internationally, is a former board member of Open Studio and serves on the organizing committee for Printopolis.

Her contributions to the project include her exhibition Living & Dying, a varied edition of lithographs on display at YYZ Artist Outlet (140-401 Richmond St. West) until December 11. In place of evoking the polarizing terms “life” and “death”, these prints are considerations of the more elusive, blurred processes of living and dying.

Right: Lauren Nurse’s Fungus Among Us, 2008, screen on birch panel, 3 x 7 feet

Balfour has curated two other shows affiliated with Printopolis, each also featuring York artists. In the Stacks, a six-person exhibition in the Queen Specific vitrine at 787 Queen St. West, includes works by Visual Arts Professor Yam Lau, Adjunct Professor Bill Burns, and Art Gallery of York University Assistant Curator Michael Maranda. The show, which opened October 9 and runs to November 9, features artists’ bookworks, each on a dedicated shelf. The ‘stacks’ are closed, in that the works may not be borrowed, yet are open, in the sense of being visible, 24 hours a day.

Printing Errors, a group show on view at Akau (1186 Queen St. West) throughout the month of October, questions the underlying assumption that there is a “correct” way to print an image or text. Precision and flawlessness are held in high esteem. Yet when printing errors do arise, can we move beyond the recognition of an ostensible mistake to discover new meanings?

Printing Errors includes works by York Visual Arts Department Studio Manager Janice Carbert and Studio Technician Dan Olsen (BFA Spec. Hons. ‘79), as well as alumni Shannon Gerard (BED ‘97), Lauren Nurse (MFA ‘08), Derek Sullivan (BFA Spec. Hons. ‘99), Jeannie Thib (BFA Spec. Hons. ‘79) and Daryl Vocat (MFA ‘01), among other artists.

Nurse is also one of the panelists in Print in the Public Sphere, a discussion on issues around public space in relation to contemporary print practices. Thib is a panelist in Economies/Ecologies of Print, which explores contemporary print-related practices with reference to artists, movements and trends that expand the boundaries of the medium. Both panels are part of the Printopolis symposium programming. The full schedule and registration information are available on the Printopolis website.