Unfold the possibilities of printmaking with Nicole Pietrantoni’s ‘Alas, Alack’
February 7, 2018
Nicole Pietrantoni wants to introduce people to the art of printmaking.
"Oftentimes when I tell people I work in the printmaking media, they have no idea what it is," the artist said. "What got me excited about it is that we can make multiples so you can distribute and share them."
Also, as printmakers she and her colleagues share and trade their creations.
"So there's sort of a generosity and democracy in printmaking as well that I really appreciate," Pietrantoni said.
Pietrantoni's new exhibit "Alas, Alack" will open on Saturday, Feb. 10, at the Kimball Art Center, 1401 Kearns Blvd. The exhibit will show through Sunday, April 15.
The artist, president of SGC International, a nonprofit dedicated to the art of printmaking, said her work as a printmaker is a departure from what many people think of as traditional printmaking such as a woodcut or etching on paper.
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"Printmaking absorbs new technology of commercial printing — such as digital, laser cutters and CNC (computer numerical control) routers — into traditional printing," she said. "I've been very interested in digital work and inkjet printing."
Pietrantoni prints in large format and then cuts up and dissect the images.
The show for the Kimball Art Center will feature a series of images that are folded up and cut, which gives a fragmented quality to them, she said.
"I'm interested in the way we read, understand and look at images," Pietrantoni explained. "Our minds are often distracted and we're looking at things in little glimpses all of the time. That's the quality I wanted in the show."
Kimball Art Center Curator Nancy Stoaks worked with Pietrantoni on how to display the exhibit.
"Nicole was part of a group show at the Kimball Art Center two years ago, and after seeing how people responded to her pieces, I wanted to further explore her work," Stoaks said. "There is something that captures your attention in the work and the way she reframes landscapes is relevant in Park City."
One of the pieces is 33 feet long and nine feet tall and will extend the length of the Kimball Art Center's longest wall in the gallery.
"It towers over you, so you have to walk around the gallery and take it in from multiple locations," Stoaks said.
The images Pietrantoni used for the exhibit are of nature.
"It's a body of work that I've been building up over the past five years," she said.
Some of the earlier images are rooted in works she did in with a Fulbright Grant in Iceland.
"Nature in Iceland is so sublime," Pietrantoni said. "It's so beautiful. It feels like you're the only person on the planet in these wild, desolate landscapes."
The artist took photographs of the scenery as a starting point.
"Then I began asking questions like, 'Why do I have that desire [to take photos]?'" she said. "I started thinking about my position as a tourist and wondered what the use of the photographs are if I go online and find everyone has taken the same picture I have of these majestic points of view."
Since much of the work was inspired by Iceland, Pietrantoni thought about climate change, but then the work began including images of the sunsets and the ground in the local landscapes in her home state of Washington.
"[What captures my eye is] a combination of things," she said. "I was trained formally as an artist, so I think in terms of color and composition. But then there is also those questions in the back of my mind as to why I take pictures."
Culture of how people take photographs was another influence on Pietrantoni when she takes pictures of landscape.
"[I] want the right framing, the right lighting, so all of those factors are there," she said. "That's why I started to develop an interest in dissecting the image or folding the images in an effort to draw attention to framing."
All the pieces in the exhibit collapse into accordion books, Pietrantoni said.
"A lot of them have texts, too, so they can be read as books," she said. "What I like of that is the idea of how the landscapes disappear into a specimen collection."
The artist will expand on that concept when she teaches two workshops this week at the Kimball Art Center.
"It's an exciting opportunity when you have an artist who comes from out of state to offer what they do to the community," Stoaks said.
The first will be a drumleaf binding for books workshop for adults from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 8.
Due to the unique spine and assembly, the book lays completely flat when open so it is perfect for artwork, drawing and sketches, according to Stoaks.
In this workshop, students will create a blank drumleaf book with a decorative hard cover, she said.
"Nicole is nationally known for printmaking and contemporary book arts," Stoaks said. "Book arts aren't something we offer a lot of classes in at the Kimball Art Center."
For information, visit https://54630.blackbaudhosting.com/54630/Drumleaf-Binding-Workshop_SPR18.
The second workshop will be for kids and teens who will learn how to make folded or accordion books from 1-3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 10.
For information, visit https://54630.blackbaudhosting.com/54630/Folded-Book-Workshop_SPR18.
"I just asked Nicole to propose some of the things that she enjoys teaching, and these are her suggestions," Stoaks said. "It's great to be able to present these educational opportunities."
Pietrantoni was introduced to visual arts by her parents.
"I grew up in a creative household," she said. "My mom is a painter and my dad did a lot of remodeling of our homes. So as a kid I had my hands on paints, wallpaper and cardboard. I think the creativity was nurtured in my upbringing."
While attending college, however, Pietrantoni felt afraid to nurture her creativity.
"I went into arts administration and did that for a while before I went to grad school (at the University of Iowa)," she said. "That's when I realized I liked making things and liked the risk of doing it."
Still, Pietrantoni took her first printmaking class while an undergrad at Vanderbilt University.
"I was also fascinated that you could print on any surface," she said. "I wanted to put an image on glass, because I liked the crispness and glossy quality."
That feeling stuck with her throughout the years.
"I do love creating and exhibiting, because its the sharing of the art," she said. "I'm delighted to work with everyone at the Kimball Art Center and share my work with the community."
Printmaker Nicole Pietrantoni will celebrate the opening of her new exhibit "Alas, Alack" on Saturday, Feb. 10, at the Kimball Art Center, 1401 Kearns Blvd. The exhibit is free and open to the public. For information, visit http://www.kimballartcenter.org.