An exhibition of local printmaking, entitled ‘Print Arts Northwest’, will be on display at Oregon State University’s Fairbanks Gallery from Nov. 4 to Dec. 4.
Originally started in 1981 as the Northwest Print Council, Print Arts Northwest is a non-profit regional professional printmaking organization that strives to showcase and exhibit the work of local artists and printmakers from the Pacific Northwest. Kristin Kohl, administrative assistant for Print Arts Northwest and one of the artists featured in the Fairbanks Gallery exhibition, said members of the organization enjoy exclusive exhibitions and professional development opportunities and benefits, such as workshops, open studios, tours and educational opportunities.
“This exhibition brings together an exceptional group of printmakers with decades of experience, utilizing almost every printmaking technique that exists,” Kohl said via email. “It provides an excellent and inspiring survey of the current state of printmaking.”
A committee of OSU art faculty choose artists and exhibitions to be displayed in Fairbanks Gallery throughout the year. Andrew Nigon, coordinator of Fairbanks Gallery, said the committee aims to cover all areas of study, including printmaking, painting, drawing, sculpture and photography.
Printmaking professor in the OSU School of Arts and Communication and member of Print Arts Northwest, Yuji Hiratsuka, is one of the artists featured in the exhibition, and was instrumental in bringing Print Arts Northwest to Fairbanks Gallery.
“I want you to enjoy what we do, in terms of printmaking, in this valley, with local artists,” Hiratsuka said.
The Fairbanks Gallery exhibition features 37 unique artists, and Hiratsuka said many are educators themselves, from schools like Western Oregon University, Gonzaga University, local community colleges and Portland schools.
Originally from Japan, Hiratsuka began printmaking in high school, and later went on to complete his graduate studies in the United States before teaching at OSU. Hiratsuka calls printmaking a time-consuming process, one which is less forgiving and less flexible than other mediums. Additionally, printmaking requires the use of specific materials, chemicals and machines.
Hiratsuka described his piece featured in Fairbanks, titled “TB,” as a narrative, which focuses on time-based items and ideas. The print was created in the summer of 2015 when doctors suspected that Hiratsuka had tuberculosis. Later, he was diagnosed with walking pneumonia and chronic bronchitis. Hiratsuka said he likes to include patterns and embellishments in his work, and tends to focus on people and figures, rather than abstract items or designs.
Although Hiratsuka is considered an expert in printmaking, he said he is still learning and facing new challenges as an artist, and continues to learn from his students as a professor in the medium.
“The fundamental things are the same —the discipline, using a plate, ink, paper, and a press,” Hiratsuka said. “But new ink came, new paper came, and then you have to try and see if you like it. It’s never ending.”
Compared to other work displayed in Fairbanks, Nigon said the Print Arts Northwest exhibition is unique because it showcases a number of different artists, and demonstrates the strong printmaking community present in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. Moreover, it is the only printmaking exhibition showing in the gallery this year.
“With this show — what makes it really cool, I think — is if you’re new to printmaking and don’t know anything about printmaking, it really exposes you to the variety of different printmaking techniques. With the number of works we have in here, each one is truly unique in process,” Nigon said. “Also, if you are familiar with printmaking or are a fan of printmaking, you can come in and see it for the same reasons, and see what contemporary printmaking artists are doing now to push that medium.”