NORTH BENNINGTON -- The Vermont Arts Exchange (VAE) presents "Spacing Out," an exhibition by four advancing printmaking students from Bennington College, in the Mill Gallery, located in The VAE’s Sage Street Mill. The show opened with a reception on Wednesday, December 4th, from 7 to 8:30pm. The exhibition is on view through February 17th, 2014.
In Bennington College’s Advanced Printmaking course, taught by faculty member Thorsten Dennerline, students Christina Cary, Zoe Elston, Tobias Murphy, and Genya Rocca-Owodunni proposed and executed projects of their own design.
Working in a traditional studio class structure comprised of critiques, discussion, and group work periods, the students focused in a variety of printmaking techniques and ways of handling materials to execute their ideas. The work featured in the show includes intaglio, silkscreen, mixed media, monotype, and artist books. Cary, a senior at Bennington studying visual art and art history has created two series for the show, a series of silkscreen prints and two wallpaper works. The content of her work addresses themes of femininity, sexuality, and intimacy. Her silkscreen prints will be exhibited during the opening only due to their graphic content. Elston, also a senior visual art student, is exhibiting a series of large scale monotypes addressing relationships of color and shape. She is also presenting a handmade etching book exploring one’s disconnection with international political realities. Murphy, a literature student who graduates this December, has produced a series of poetic black line etchings illustrious of epic fables. Lastly, Rocca-Owodunni, a Sophomore, is showing several large intaglio prints based on her studies of anatomy and the digestive system.
Mounting final prints as a group show in a community venue both reinforces the community spirit and collaborative nature of printmaking, in which artists share a print shop, equipment, and often ideas and techniques. It also offers an important challenge to student artists.
"It’s part of my teaching philosophy," Dennerline says. "The students benefit a great deal from interacting with the world outside the campus. You give them this real-world, hands-on opportunity that helps build up their confidence as artists, and it gives them the chance to engage with the outside community. It’s a nice way to start a conversation between the academic community and the real world."
He adds, "From a teaching standpoint, it broadens their audience and makes them work harder -- there’s more pressure, more people seeing it."
It’s also a lesson in organizing a group show in a non-for-profit space, an invaluable experience as the students continue their career as artists. In addition to creating the work and curating the show, they have written artist statements, determined price lists for their work available for sale and helped publicize the exhibit.