In January we invited printmakers on Instagram to join us in a print exchange called R/Evolution 2015. After needed time for several artists to create and send in their prints, and after needed time for us to make boxes, collate, package, and send the prints back out, we are excited to share the amazing images, a few process photos, and artist statements with you.
The theme: R/Evolution. This is a play on the words revolution and evolution; revolution being a forced change, and evolution being a natural gradual change. Thinking about these words and their meanings along with your own experiences, beliefs, and observations; what will your image become?
The actions we make in our day to day lives may seem normal to us. When taken from an outside perspective they may not seem so normal. Place other animals in our shoes and see what comes to mind.
I decided to take a figurative angle at the theme of our print exchange. In college one of my favorite courses was on evolution. The natural process of eliminating characteristics and developing others that benefited the species was fascinating. As I have since graduated, returned again to school, taught special education, and am currently a wife and a mother of three children, I think often of the evolution of my person. In contrast to the elimination of flawed characteristics, I feel as though my flaws, mistakes, and struggles have grown and become more apparent like the mistakes in the knitted garment in my print. Similar to the theory of evolution, these experiences and flaws have given me more depth, more compassion, and added to the beauty of my person.
My work is an investigation of comparative relationships through personal narratives. Existing in multiple mediums my pieces are conceptually driven to their means of production. Whether in the form of sculptural autonomous machines or variations in printmaking my work is based in storytelling. I was raised in an environment where it was believed anything could be fixed or figured out. A large amount of my work starts as a means of breaking down, fixing, or figuring out a personal matter. Not a means of catharsis but a means of interpersonal communication. I often rely on a process of forcing images against each other to dilate a previously unscripted narrative. I have never been short on words but when it comes to explaining emotion I often am short on the right words. There is a practice in dream therapy in dealing with partial memory where the client will start telling their dream until it gets unclear what happens next. At this point the therapist will make up the rest. The client will contest, saying no it was not like that it was like this, going on to finish a dream they had up until then, forgotten. The memory comes forward to defend itself. I am both the client and the administrator. I force comparisons in hope of a defensive dialog coming forward to defend the visual narrative as a valid interpretation of each personal investigation.
I feel that one experiences and draws conclusions about the world through the assembly of mismatched ideas and sensorial memories. Sometimes the associations of these ideas are seemingly random and other times there are lines that can be drawn between them that may lead to overarching truths or conclusions. Ultimately these conclusions are unique, ephemeral and larger than the sum of their parts. My work is an attempt to present the viewer with multi-layered ideas and imagery that might lead them to conclusions they may not have arrived at in any other way. Specifically, I am interested in the idea or act of re-contextualizing American history in an attempt to explain the present. My approach to this involves the combination and most often, confusion and degradation of images of beloved American presidents and other iconic figures, which have direct association with the course of American history. I use this kind of imagery in order to speak of the admittedly, senseless act of seeking scapegoats for our current political/social/economic crisis.
Life the last few years has shown me the meaning of R/evolution. There have been events that have forced major changes and evolved into where I am today. I have been surprised how the body, mind, and soul adapts & evolves through Pain, Tragedy, Discovery, Growth and Joy. The ocean, to me represents all of those things. It has been a constant place of healing for me over the years and I find I am at my most peaceful in that place. The ocean is in a constant ebb and flow of R/evolution and so am I.
I am Deep like the Ocean
Soft like the Sea
Strong like a Tempest
Free to be Me.
Georgia H. Ward-Collings
The theme of this portfolio is R/Evolution, implicating imagery that is either revolutionary or embodying themes of evolution. In my contribution, I address the theme of evolution from both a biological and a cultural standpoint. As human beings we are animals, which have developed through processes of adaptation and modification. I pose that human cultural developments have a foundation in the organic, and contrast my hand-cut figure comprised of biological growth with a commercially created comic-strip background. While the vintage comic page is itself originally hand-created, through the digitization of print processes, the segmentation of panels and the understanding that it was created as a commercial product it serves as a contrast representing the alternative aspect of development in human evolution.
The evolution of print and printing as communication has always gone hand-in-hand with social revolution. From Gutenberg and the Protestant Reformation to Facebook and the Arab Spring, whenever information has been disseminatedto the masses, change soon follows. One of the most impressive examples of this was when Thomas Paine hired Robert Bell to print “Common Sense”. Although Paine had planned on giving all the proceeds to help the Continental Army, Bell swindled him, claiming that even after selling out two print runs, no profit had been made. In retaliation Paine rescinded his copyright, and other printers soon published so many copies that there were eventually more copies printed per capita than any other book in history. Nearly every Colonist in America had access to this little pamphlet, and the impact of that fact on the following Colonial uprising cannot be overstated.
R/Evolution being about the affects of forced change and evolving change over time and how these two kinds of changes affects my personal art, is really a metaphor for human existence in general. Everyone has core characteristics, values, even moral codes they live by that send their life into a specific direction. Whether these traits were given to you by your parents, you were born with them (it’s something about your unique personality), etc., everyone has them, and they’re usually general and noticeable by everyone around you. These traits are easy to pick up on by just having one conversation with another. They’re a sort of “Revolution” of administrative order, so to speak; a way for other humans to make sense of the people around them. She is a woman, she is married, she is religious, she is a creative person, etc. The dark arrows on this print represent these core traits that everyone one of us have, but underneath these administrative categories there is so much more to each of us individually. The process of marbling paper is more fascinating to me than the actual finished product; that is not to say the finished product isn’t special. Dropping paint on the size and watching the paint stretch and contort into different shapes is an “Evolutionary” change. As I drip and splatter more paint onto the size the characteristics of all the paints bending and pushing against each other create a sort of winding road, a map in all different directions scattered with peeks and valleys. Once you lay the paper down and pull up the print you uncover a miraculous and beautiful image. Life experience does this same sort of “Evolutionary” change to us. All of the hard, painful, happy, exhausting moments we deal with throughout our life time is stretching, bending, and molding our own human spirits, and when we pull back the curtains of self doubt and ridiculous expectations we give ourselves, we find someone beautiful, unique, and even miraculous!
We want to thank all of the amazing artists who participated in this year's print exchange. It's important to us to keep the tradition of print exchanges alive. We hope to see you all (and more!) next year.