It’s easy to dismiss the things that move us as a byproduct of natural talent — or perhaps a divine gift from the gods of good art. It’s harder to acknowledge that behind most of the pieces of art, music or performances that inspire us is a method and legwork.
“Print & Process,” the latest offering at The Green Building, asks us to reconsider what we assume about artists and the way they create. Gallery director Dan Pfalzgraf conceptualized the exhibition after growing tired of the way artists are always portrayed in movies or television shows.
Those bohemian spirits who case imagination and have divine moments of clarity certainly exist, but so do artists whose work relies heavily on structure. “Manic, throwing paint, scattered personalities — that’s the stereotypical depiction of an artist,” he says. “I thought about artists who can’t work that way, whose work is very regimented. The mechanical and the creative, they don’t have to be mutually exclusive.”
To highlight this, he brought together four artists whose media involves methodological and technically specific processes, including woodcutting, lithography and cyanotype. To work in any of these, says Pfalzgraf, one must master the rules and parameters before learning which soft edges can be changed for creative purposes. Talent is involved, of course, but there’s also so much more.
Perfect for the exhibit is Rodalfo Salgado Jr. The Louisville-based multimedia artist’s work often centers on the theme of systems — mostly of the organic world — while also involving a multi-step process of creation. His stone lithographs are busy and bizarre. Balancing those is Indianapolis-based Casey Roberts, whose pieces may look simple and stark at first glance, but visually unravel as you continue to consider them. His cyanotype work includes layers, precision of color and simplicity.
Rounding out the exhibit are locals Susanna Crum and Shawna Khalily. Their woodcuts are rich pieces full of depth, covering a variety of themes and tones. “Each artist brings their own thing to it,” explains Pfalzgraf.
“Print & Process” complements another ongoing exhibition, “Press: Artist & Machine” at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft. According to its statement, that exhibit explores “the use of the machine press and its ongoing relationship to art, music, literature and material culture.” Items featured include posters, prints, greeting cards and stationary from presses in the region. (Louisville’s Hound Dog Press and Larkspur Press are featured.)
The two exhibitions were not planned together and are still not officially connected to one another, but their interconnected themes complement one another by exploring how its creators get to their final project. For each of the artists and makers involved, those steps vary, but one thing is certain: It takes a whole lot of effort to look effortless.