Contemporary printmaking has gone far beyond the copper plate and the iron press. Although new and innovative techniques are constantly being discovered, that element of surprise the artist experiences when pulling the paper back from the plate happily remains. 

Design and Chance: Three Approaches to Contemporary Printmaking is an exhibition of new and recent work by three Boston-area printmakers who embrace new techniques with often unexpected results. Building on time-honored traditions, these artists employ methods as dissimilar as gelatin-plate printing, computer-based illustration and color photograms made in the darkroom. 

Modern in approach, Kristin Breiseth, Mark J. Stock and Laura Wulf show that skill and happenstance continue to play equal roles in an art form that seems to have no evolutionary limit. 

About the Artists

Kristin Breiseth produces monotypes from impermanent plates made of gelatin. By placing paper and other objects on her plates, inking them and hand pressing paper to them, the artist produces images that seem to twist and drift with the freedom of wind and waves. While her mastery of monotypes enables her to create series of similar compositions, none of the prints can be reproduced or even predicted in advance of being lifted from its inked plate. 

Mark J. Stock creates prints from computational software that is used in physics to illustrate or predict phenomena as divergent as gravity, earthquakes and genetic mutation. Starting with a series of coded if/then data statements and subjecting them to theoretical conditions, he produces prints that are organic in composition and color. Despite the artist’s using a scientific approach to printmaking, by nature the origin of his images makes them delicate: change a single bit of data, and they are gone forever. 

Laura Wulf begins her two-step printmaking process in a pitch-black color darkroom where, through multiple light exposures, she develops images on photo-sensitive paper without the use of a negative. In the studio, she then scratches directly into the paper’s emulsion with sharp tools or sandpaper to unite what had been largely free-floating forms into coherent compositions. The final print, while untethered from worldly representation, still exhibits its variations in color, mass, motion and mood.

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