In the Press: Wash. Post Reviews “INK IT”

The Washington Post recently reviewed BlackRock’s gallery exhibition “INK IT: Contemporary Print Practices,” a juried exhibition of fine art prints using such various techniques as woodcut, lithography, screenprinting, and etching among others.

Cookie Kerxton, “Monotype Spheres III”
(Cookie Kerxton/BlackRock Center for the Arts)

Annie Smith, “Potomac Prints” (Annie Smith/BlackRock Center for the Arts)

Some of the 43 printmakers chosen for “Ink It” at BlackRock Center for the Arts refuse to restrict themselves to flat sheets of paper — or even to use paper. Among the most potent pieces in this survey of recent work by Mid-Atlantic artists is Nikki Brugnoli’s robustly blackened “Back Field #1,” which adds freehand graphite and India-ink gestures to a silk-screen on Mylar. Still, there’s much classic technique on display, as is to be expected in an array that includes prints by local virtuosos of line such as Jake Muirhead, Carol Moore and Eve Stockton.

Color can be fundamental, too, as in Stockton’s “Burst — var. 122,” a woodcut orb whose metallic silver seems to levitate over a blue field. Anne Smith’s “Potomac Prints” is a set of 20 horizon lines, rendered in gradations of color. These near-abstractions are in portrait rather than landscape mode but can be seen as river views. Yet the show’s most vibrant color study, Cookie Kerxton’s “Monotype Spheres III,” doesn’t reveal any subject other than shape and hue.

Nature is a frequent motif, notably in two heavily populated prints: Veronica Barker-Barzel’s “Brown Tremblers of Guadeloupe,” depicting a flock of tightly grouped birds; and Richard Hricko’s “Second Growth,” which places the viewer almost inside a dense thicket. The assortment includes conventional renderings of people, but more intriguing are pictures in which clothing suggests missing figures: Pauline Jakobsberg’s “Extra Buttons,” a paper garment on a real metal hanger; and Amy Helminiak’s “The Way My Garden Grows,” which plants two pieces of underwear amid flowers to represent transgender identity.

Selected by Smithsonian American Art Museum curator Crawford Alexander Mann III, the works represent nearly a dozen techniques, including laser printing. Mostly, though, “Ink It” is a showcase of traditional printmaking expertise, however untraditional the subject or theme.

In the galleries: Printmakers’ Works Are Anything but Two-Dimensional, by Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, Mar. 22, 2019

INK IT is on display in BlackRock’s Kay Gallery until March 30.