The Sanford Gallery

Folklore Arena – Prints by Aaron Piziali and Solar Plate Prints: An Invitational Portfolio

Aaron Piziali, relief print

Aaron Piziali, relief print

March 10, 2006 – April 14, 2006

In Folklore Arena, Aaron Piziali exhibits prints that use several techniques – silkscreen, letterpress, linoleum cut and drypoint – to present images and ideas about our relationships with identity, the brain and learning disabilities. From these prints, a folklore of ability and history emerges. Piziali states: “This is a personal attempt to map the mental environment created by the simple acts of thought, those that are successful and those that not.”

Aaron Piziali currently works at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art and as a farm hand for a local organic farm. His interests and work have been in Special Education in local high schools, as an assistant for autistic youth, and other youth/community arts work for the last twelve years. Aaron has published an autobiographical essay in the book, Learning Disabilities and Life Stories, in which many of the ideas for this show had their genesis.

Solar Plate Prints; An Invitational Portfolio is a new collection of prints by nine members of the Zea Mays Printmaking Studio. Participating artists are: Meredith Broberg, Liz Chalfin, Stephanie Cramer, Tracy Ducasse, Anita S. Hunt, Kate Jenkins, Aaron Piziali, Judith Wolf, and Diane Worth. This portfolio project was initiated by Dan Welden, a developer of the Solar Plate Printmaking technology and co-author of Printmaking in the Sun, a recently published textbook on the subject. Mr. Welden has been touring the world in the last decade sharing his new innovation and exploring its potential with artists.

The art of printmaking has a rich tradition of technical innovation. And even though prints are still made the same way Rembrandt did 500 years ago, new printmaking technologies continue to be developed and practiced by contemporary artists. The latest trend is in safer and non-toxic approaches to traditional printmaking. One of the most recent developments is Solar Plate Printmaking, in which an etched plate is made through the use of a light sensitive, water soluble photopolymer emulsion.

The Pioneer Valley is home to Zea Mays Printmaking, one of only a few printmaking studios nationwide that is dedicated to safer and non-toxic approaches to printmaking. Thus it was a perfect fit when Dan Welden asked Liz Chalfin, Director of Zea Mays, to take a stack of solar plates back to the studio and put them in the hands of member artists. The resulting prints are an exploration of the potential of this new medium by local artists. Nine of the studio’s member artists were selected to use the printing plates to create an edition of prints for the portfolio. The images explore the potential of the medium – manipulated digital photography, pencil, ink and charcoal drawing and various combinations of all.

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