Thursday, November 02, 2006

A Print Tour of New England, Part 1

Caitlin from Philagrafika here. I just spent a week touring New England and some amazing prints shows. First stop was at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum to see Wunderground: Providence 1995 to present. The curators, artists and collectors pulled out all the stops putting together both a poster show and an truly amazing interactive fun installation.

The poster show cover the walls of two galleries is a cluster of wonderful confusion and eye candy while giving me as an outsider a visual history of the recent history of this community. The vast quantity of line and color, political messages, local activism mixed with entertainment made me feel warm inside. You could feel the energy of this place, Providence radiating through these walls covered floor to ceiling with printed images. The artists who created these prints and posters have a style which you can see ebb and flow as the community of artists obviously enjoyed and learned and styles grew and stemmed like an amazing family tree of artists spread their vision.

The posters are not about fine editioning and the artists aren't concerned with signing or clean borders - some of my favorite looked like they were thrown together in an afternoon - but this form of art is about the message - an immediate thought communicating it to a community.

The next room was the delicious treat, Shangri-La-La-Land. This was the installation by many of the artists of the now defunct Fort Thunder. The show were curated by Judith Tannenbaum, Richard Brown Baker and Maya Allison. The artists include Mat Brinkman, Brian Chippendale, Jim Drain, Leif Goldberg, Jungil Hong, Xander Marro, Erin Rosenthal, Pippi Zornoza and Lu Heintz. I was lucky enough to meet some of these artists when they were in Philly for the Full Force Five show at Space 1026 - when Jungil Hong made an amazing psychedelic bb shooting range - and she made me weep inside at the beauty of what she did at the RISD show.

Entering the installation, visitors are greeted with "Welcome please enter and see the beginning of the end of everything, Shangri-La-La-Land. The artists each worked to create a utopian room full of animation, sound, interactivity and visual treats creating a cacophony of glee with myself, and my family (aunts, uncles and ma). Everyone played and shared as we discovered secret little art within the installation - like Xander Marro's temple which dominates the space - with puppet shows and animation housed within. Jungil Hong created a giant glowing jellyfish like sphere covered with screenprinted shopping bags creating a shimmery skin. For those bold enough to enter and be engulfed by the egg, you are treated to a terrarium garden of succulent plants.

Many of the artists are also involved with animation - and their were little treats like the animation of bats which mesmerized me.

Overall the installation is a visual treat! Full of wonderful ideas - and it is wonderful to see how the artists have evolved their styles and skills from the poster printed art and grew it into polished installation - which still gives a lovely sense of community.


You can see some of the animations, music and art of the artists here at the Fort Thunder

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