An often-overlooked resource on the Wheaton campus is found within the Beard and Weil Galleries located in the Watson Fine Arts Center.
The galleries provide an opportunity for Wheaton students studying art to engage with the professional curating process. The galleries also provide material that students and professors can utilize in relation to classroom discussions.
On display from March 2 to April 10 is “Printmaking Reimagined,” Wheaton’s third biennial exhibition featuring 65 works of art from the United States, as well as Canada and Sweden.
Perhaps the most striking element of the exhibit is the diversity of the prints.
Upon entering the gallery, the spectator is met with a wide range of visuals. On the floor to the right there is a three-dimensional print of a city landscape, and printed on the wall is a large mandala-like design.
There are traditional prints and detailed prints scattered with intense though minimal meaning. Titles range from “The Singular Spectrological Seamstress of the West” to “Flora.”
As the accompanying brochure written by Jessica Kuszaj emphasizes, the exhibition was curated with Wheaton sentiments in mind. Wheaton, as a liberal arts institution, embodies the idea of interdisciplinary connections.
Different fields of study are undeniably interrelated in terms of the content they each address. Liberal arts is about thinking in a different light, questioning what society conditions as acceptable and challenging those preconceptions.
Artists featured in the current show embody a similar sentiment, according to Kuszaj. They each “push the boundaries” of printmaking in unique ways. Printmaking, as is made clear in the exhibit, is not limited to two-dimensional prints.
Printmaking can be three dimensional, framed, sketch-like, vivid or washed out in color. There is no way in which printmaking can be concretely defined; there is no way in which it needs to be defined.
As with most art forms, there is a traditional way in which printmaking is perceived. In its limited definition, printmaking is defined as narrowly associated with printing plates and presses and multiples, as opposed to the modern day acceptance of taking cues from different artistic forms as well.
Printmaking is a concept foreign to many who do not have a broad knowledge of the art world. The process of printmaking consists in making images by printing them through a process involving prepared blocks or plates. This exhibit, ironically, follows Rhode Island-based printmaker Allison Bianco’s exhibit, “Atlantic Time.”
As a complement to the show, on the evening of April 5, Andrew Stein Raftery, the juror of the exhibit, will deliver a “Gallery Talk” in which he will, “share insights on the history and constant reinvention of printmaking through a look,” at the exhibition, according to the brochure.
Raftery, a highly experienced printmaker himself, earned a B.F.A. in painting from Boston University and an M.F.A. in printmaking from Yale University. He currently teaches at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence.
As always, I encourage both students and faculty campus wide to visit the galleries. Whether as a student of art or simply a student of the liberal arts, there is something to be learned from opening oneself up to the familiar and the unfamiliar. The Beard and Weil Galleries are a great place to start.