JAMESTOWN, R.I. — Printmaking has been having quite a moment in the Rhode Island art scene as of late. The ever-evolving medium offers artists a plethora of material to work with and on, and possibilities being tested and stretched in studios around the Ocean State and the world.
Starting Friday, the Jamestown Arts Center will celebrate 16 of the best printmakers from in and around Rhode Island as part of its latest exhibit, “New Impressions,” which runs through May 1.
“We had an opening in our exhibition schedule, which is rare for us because we are booked through 2022. We had a curator that had to pull out, and so we still wanted to do something with prints — that was the original concept behind an exhibition at this time — and so I spoke to Michael Dym,” JAC Exhibitions Director Karen Conway said. “He is on our exhibition committee, and he is one of the founding board members of the New York Print Club and also with part of Printed Matter in New York City, so he’s very well-versed in different print media. And so we just started putting together a list of artists that we really wanted to participate.”
The artists with pieces in the exhibit are Kate Aitchison, Lisa Barsumian, Allison Bianco, Edwige Charlot, Annie DeBethune, Nancy Friese, Joan Hall, Mary Jameson, Peter Marcus, Kelsey Miller, Barbara Pagh, Serena Perrone, Andrew Raftery, Laurie Sloan, Casey Weibust and Josy Wright.
“We’re just really happy with the array of artists that we have, and we were very careful to make sure that we got artists that are at different stages in their careers and use different print media to really push the boundaries of what printing can do,” Conway said. “So some people actually make their own paper, some people are more traditional, some people use prints, printing and photography as well.”
The participating artists have a wide array of experience, from local members to nationally known artists.
“Andrew Raftery is probably one of the leading printers in the U.S. and we were so lucky to have him participate,” Conway said. “We have an artist, Serena Perrone, who’s from Sicily as well. (She has) just beautiful work, and then Peter Marcus, who actually lives in Jamestown now, he’s a mentor to a lot of these artists and so is Josy Wright, (she’s) really been a mentor to many artists, not just in Jamestown but in Rhode Island and beyond. So we’re lucky to have them here in Jamestown, and she does her own drawing and printing classes for the art center.”
Overall, being around these printmakers and their work has increased Conway’s knowledge of — and respect for — the medium.
“I’m learning more and more about printmaking, just because there’s so many different techniques and the artists that we have are just really masterfully displaying their craft,” Conway said.
While planning the exhibit, Conway said the JAC didn’t know whether or not they would be able to be open to the public. And while they will be able to have visitors into the gallery, there will be no opening reception. Instead, Dym will give a virtual tour of the exhibit this Friday at 5 p.m. via Instagram Live on the JAC’s page, @jamestownartscenter.
“We feel very fortunate that we can be open,” Conway said. “We’re really just happy to be there and be able to have this exhibition.”
There is also a mural portion of the exhibit for the first time in JAC history.
“For the first time we’ve ever been able to have a new mural wall on the outside of the face of the building, and we’ve been able to incorporate the mural wall as an extension of the exhibition, so Kelsey Miller’s done that (with) all types of different mono types on the front of the building,” Conway said.
“New Impressions” opens Friday and runs through May 1 during gallery hours Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., or by appointment by calling (401) 560-0979.
For more information, visit jamestownartcenter.org.