Off the Wall / by Clarissa Gonzalez

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During this past weekend I had the pleasure of visiting the exhibition, Off the Wall: Contemporary Prints at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas.  In correlation with PrintAustin, Southwestern works to bring forth a higher caliber of art works to the Austin area.  They are teaching their students the importance of working cross-mediums.

Off the Wall, presents artists with both national and international reputations that expand on the printed medium.  These artists are experimenting with the cross hairs of the 2D picture plane and the three-dimensional sculptural space.

I had first seen Nicole Pietrantoni's work during Print Houston a few years back, where I had seen the waterfall piece (that is also in this exhibition). I remember how beautiful and unique it was. I instantly remembered it when I saw it again.

Do you ever believe in destiny? Because I'm starting to think that maybe it was destiny for me to see her work again. Because Pietrantoni is probably becoming one of the most influential artists to me that I've discovered (or rediscovered) this year. Upon doing some more research on her I fell even more in love with her work. But also learned that both of us are wishing to explore the relationship between humans and nature. We both work upon interest in traditional landscape (in her case landscape photography), and the tensions between the beauty of the imagery of nature and threat of environmental change.

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Sam Parker Salazar is an printmaker/paper sculptor out of Illinois (but received her MFA from the University of Texas at Austin when I was there). What starts as a simple monotype became artworks that transform the spaces that they are in.  Through her colorful, hand-cut paper shapes and lines, the space is transformed by the light and shadows casted by the forms. 

Parker Salazar hopes to break the typical uses of printmaking by creating installations that are unique of itself and for the space.  She is concerned with creating movement throughout the space as if it were a gestural drawing.

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Stacey Elko (who I had the pleasure of meeting and is quite a character) explorers what she calls "internal states of transformation" through her metaphorically charged Fish Bomb Boats.  These structures that hang like airships from the ceiling are very much inspired by Elko being in Morocco during her time with the Peace Corp.  Elko explained that she first created these airships for another show concerned with mobility and transportation; where she wished to create something out of the ordinary.  Thus came the creation of these airboats.  She envisioned a world drowned due to global warming and that the remnants of humanity had to live in these airboats in order to survive.  With small wooden dowels and reeds used in paper making the boats were constructed.  She then embellished them with tiny woodcuts and henna paintings, all of which were inspired by her time with the women of Morocco. 

Sang-Mi Yoo is a classically trained Korean-American artist whom constructs large hanging images of row houses and flora to explore the relationship between her experiences of living in Korea and in the United States (most recently in Lubbock, Texas).  Yoo calls to question of how domestic experiences affect perceptions of Korean and American identities.  Yoo explained the importance of being able to branch away from the work that an artist typically does.  As a classically trained lithographer, Yoo says she feels that she does tire of working on the stone, and when she creates her large paper installations it acts as a breath of fresh air.  That even when she returns to drawing and lithography after working on these large projects, it brings excitement and new light to working on those works.

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