Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Studio Visit with Ann deVere by Katherine Keltner

Studio Visit with Ann deVere
November 29, 2012
Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop

I had a wonderful visit with Ann deVere at her printshop and following in a quiet studio. She gave me a thorough introduction to the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop including its and Robert Blackburn’s history. As someone who has eagerly experimented with printmaking when I have had access to facilities, I very much enjoyed seeing the various presses and techniques – lithograph, etching, letterpress, monoprint. This morphed into a discussion about experimentation and printmaking which is central to Ann’s exploration of art-making. Printmaking requires proficiency with technique certainly, but Ann is careful not to let her work become technical; she prefers to look at printmaking as an investigation of material processes – something I compared to mixed media as she took me through some of her work and I saw the multiple processes that go into her prints.

I have known Ann for some time now but never really gotten to see her work in depth, so this was a really rewarding visit for me to get to know her work. She had set prints out from the past several years to take me through where she has come from and what she thinks about in her work. Ann was trained as an architect and grew to be passionate specifically about printmaking after a presentation on printmaking that inspired her to take her first class in collagraphs (printmaking process where the plate is a collage versus metal in etchings or stone in lithography). She studied under George Nama at the National Academy School of Fine Arts where she received her first printmaking scholarship and made her first body of work- a series of etchings, which impressed upon her the magical moment of first seeing the final print and inspired her to pursue this direction of art making. She went on to receive a scholarship to the National Academy and a fellowship at MacDowell, all of which solidified her foundations as an artist and she was off. Her Keyholder residency at the Lower East Side Printshop was the first place she felt she made more mature work, an effort that was also strongly supported by tART as a group that embraced and encouraged her experiments. (Interestingly, her first tART studio visit was one to my studio in 2009, and so my visit now to her was a lovely sort of link within the Collectively Assembled chain.)

At first, Ann often began her prints from etching marked plates that had already been used and used mostly recycled materials in my collagraphsI liked the idea of working with memory whether in recycled materials or reused metal plates. It was helpful and inspiring to have marks to react to instead of staring at a pristine and blank plate, and made her more comfortable to experiment. What began as more abstract mark making in black and white in the etchings and hand-painting in the collagraphs (color was dictated by the materials on the collaged plate which were very colorful though did not get translated to the prints because she printed in black ink), slowly morphed into more recognizable images. Ann is now working on a series of landscapes (among other overlapping series), and is experimenting with how to make color a more integrated part of the printing process using Renaissance colors to form her palate and mesh with her imagery. What she seeks to do, really, is to expand contemporary printmaking into a series of mixed and experimental processes that take form in one print (and she has begun working with digital printing).

For the Collectively Assembled show, I encouraged Ann to create an allover, anticompositional environment. This follows from Nikki’s selection of one of my works that she chose for its alloverness and follows from Ann’s own desires to affect the built environment through her aesthetic practices. I encouraged her to present this installation similarly to what she presented to me – highlighting the growth and interconnectedness of her works – and including some of the plates, which are a vital part of any print and quite beautiful as objects. I am looking forward to seeing what she presents in January!