For centuries, prints have been a means to illustrate, define, and share scientific findings, political ideologies, and social actions. Maps, newspapers, and magazines can provide material evidence of the ways social frameworks and cultural norms have been promoted and maintained. In Interventions: Re-framing the Printed Image, contemporary artists appropriate, intervene upon, and reinvent printed images to reveal new interpretations of their impact and agency in our times. Imagery from mass media and politics are raw material for artists like Jeremy Dean, who deconstructs and re-contextualizes iconic imagery to address popular media’s role in purposeful and “natural” forgetting. In Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated), Kara Walker’s trademark silhouettes subvert and obscure the original narratives of images published in 1866.
Graphical representations of politics, pop culture, science, and commerce have changed greatly over the centuries, from the exacting detail of a wood engraving to the presumed authority of a photograph. However, the act of removing an image from its original context reminds us of the fluidity and complexity of a printed image’s communicative powers, regardless of the era or culture in which it was produced. Stephen Irwin erased information from pornographic magazine pages to isolate and emphasize the underlying beauty of gestures, while Brandon Ballengée and Troels Carlsen resurrect antique book pages to creatively address the urgency of contemporary environmental and social issues. In her Twentieth Century series, Alexis Smith scavenged for B-movie posters, and then added found text and imagery to create alternative storylines. As digital media further embeds graphic imagery into our everyday lives, these artists utilize printed matter to remind us of the importance of examining – and reexamining – the underlying structures and agency of published media today.
-Susanna Crum, Assistant Professor of Fine Arts, Printmaking at Indiana University Southeast
This exhibition was curated by Susanna Crum, Assistant Professor of Fine Arts, Printmaking at Indiana University Southeast, in conjunction with the Mid America Print Council Conference. Co-hosted by Indiana University Southeast and University of Louisville, the conference takes place October 5-8, 2016.