HEDGE Gallery, located in 78th Street Studios, is expanding its annual printmaking spotlight to include photography with a two-woman exhibition entitled “Evidence of Existence” featuring Karen D. Beckwith and Amber Ford.
There will be a preview reception Wednesday, March 17, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. The exhibit opens Friday, March 19, from 5:00 to 8:00 pm.
This exhibition examines the human footprint and Beckwith draws from her travels to her hometown of Corry, Pennsylvania while reflecting on recent journeys to Arizona and Taiwan. She encapsulates the human imprint on our world by capturing microcosmic moments like faded signs, graffiti, remnants of furniture or manmade materials and even mailboxes, carving out a storyline of who and what came before. Mailboxes became a theme in this series and she feels they represent a “placeholder for our existence.”
“’Evidence of Existence’ actually came to me when I was at Bamboo Curtain Studio in Taiwan for an artist residency,” says Beckwith. “I was there for 2 months exploring the neighborhoods and the country. As I observed how people live and watched their routines it occurred to me that I was witnessing how the people exist in that place. The evidence was the clues I found of that existence minus the actual people. Laundry on the line, grates over the doors, bicycles, windows and mail boxes. I was doing similar work before going to Taiwan but it struck me more profoundly in a place where I was not familiar.”
Beckwith graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1987 with a BFA in Printmaking and Illustration before going on to successfully complete a Tamarind Institute Master Printer Fellowship making her one of only a little over a hundred printmakers nationally who have a registered ‘chop mark’ with Tamarind granting her a Master Printer certification.
Beckwith is trained in lithography specifically, which is a process of drawing with a grease-based substance on limestone or aluminum plates which is chemically etched and then printed. However, with this series she chose to use screen-printing, which was a bit of a leap from what her process usually entails, and is what pop artist and icon, Andy Warhol was known for. Warhol said, “The reason I’m painting this way is that I want to be a machine, and I feel that whatever I do and do machine-like is what I want to do,” referring the process of silk-screen printing images recurrently onto a single canvas.
“I chose screen printing because I use the photograph as a starting point then I manipulate it in Photoshop,” says Beckwith. “I break down an image on the computer and reassemble it in a way that adds a sense of moodiness and memory. I will use a monotype layer as well to bring in a painterly application of color. Monotype and screen print combined give me some pretty powerful and dynamic marks. The emotive mark is what I am after and removing my delicate drawn marks have allowed me to get there.”
Beckwith has been working with artist and former Cleveland Museum of Art coworker Corrie Slawson of Ping Pong Press in Cleveland Heights. Beckwith works in the basement of Ping Pong where they house their Charles Brand etching press and where she has been printing with Slawson since leaving CIA in 2017. This is also where she unearthed her love of the screen printing process.
“I hope to take the viewer on the journey with me,” says Beckwith. “I would like them to feel a sense place: standing in my shoes, witness the place I was observing and inhale the emotions from my experience of that place. I invite the viewer to investigate and enjoy the meaning created by the layers of ink in my prints.”
The ushering in of photography into this annual printmaking show is represented by Amber N. Ford, a Cleveland-based photographer and artist. Fellow BFA, CIA alumna ’16, Ford, primarily works in photography while occasionally exploring other mediums. Her portraiture work is both moving and poignant and longs for that intimate connection with the elusive other where human interrelatedness can feel just out of reach.
Yet in this series it seems there is another kind of reaching; an extension towards the vacancy left by an orphaned urban landscape. In her image “Lazy Boy,” a striped recliner inhabits the desolate street like a dog waiting for its owner to return home, a Do Not Enter sign just in the shadow of the frame contrasting the otherwise welcoming place of rest. Ford draws from her travels in New Orleans and Los Angeles where she explored her surroundings for signs of life.
From the show description:
Ford’s digital photography, captured during many of her travels in New Orleans and Los Angeles, explores the spatial relationships between our bodies and the environment. Her recent collage pieces use found black and white photographs of black people meshed with colored contemporary magazine cut-outs, giving new life to the tossed photos and thinking about the layering of time in her work.
“Evidence of Existence” will run through: Friday, May 7.