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Printmaking exhibit at Gainesville State College explores handmade images in a digital world
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"Preservation (End of Summer)" by Nashville-based artist Lesley Patterson-Marx.

‘Etched and Pulled’
What: Prints and works created using printmaking processes by John Amoss, Amanda Burk, Beth Grabowski, Jennifer Manzella, Lesley Patterson-Marx, Jon Swindler and Rebekah Tolley
When: Through March 18; closing reception, noon March 18
Where: Roy C. Moore Art Gallery, Gainesville State College, 3820 Mundy Mill Road, Oakwood
How much: Free
More info: 678-717-3438 or bsale@gsc.edu

OAKWOODThemes of nostalgia and identity pop up over and over again in "Etched and Pulled," the current show at Gainesville State College’s Roy C. Moore Art Gallery. The exhibit of works by seven artists from North Georgia and beyond focuses on printmaking, an art form that in an age of digital manipulation and mass-production, reinterprets traditional methods to emerge fresh and original in an image-saturated culture.

In this exhibit, such a marriage of technology and tradition is perhaps best exemplified by North Carolina printmaker and digital media artist Rebekah Tolley’s tangled crustacean come to life in "Molting," a projected digital animation created in conjunction with Lydia Musco. Also from North Carolina, where she is a faculty member at UNC Chapel Hill, Beth Grabowski employs digital manipulation in creating her "Nostomatic" series. These black-and-white portrait-like photos are distorted to grotesqueness and then overlayed with delicate, stylized décor and minimal shots of color. The symmetrical yet obscure results call to mind Rorschach blots and ask us to reconsider issues of familiarity and identity.

In a pair of somewhat self-effacing installations, "The Unfortunate Nature of Lithography 1 & 2," University of Georgia professor Jon Swindler exhibits a series of similar black-and-white images. These amorphous shapes are rendered in sketchy dashes with blurred edges and smudged backgrounds, revealing the methods behind the madness of the medium of printmaking.

Gainesville State College professor John Amoss offers a rather eclectic selection of works. This former Atlanta Journal-Constitution illustrator and designer with a background in traditional Japanese printmaking has had a long career creating imagery for both television and print. Amoss’ "Pachydermis" is a fiery copper-hued elephantine creature that toys with abstract expressionism, while "Family Jewel" is a naturalistic still life featuring a coal-hued egg in a nest against a backdrop layered with envelopes and letters and a lone, dark bird wing — images alluding to ideas of familial ties, ancestral lore and death.

Similarly, Amanda Jane Burke’s "In Lieu of Something" is a gray-hued funerary piece featuring a cameo-like silhouette, a cluster of pink carnations and a tangled drape of ghostly pearls. A barely visible gathering of candlelit figures hold vigil below while a megaphone hovers surreally in the center of the composition, announcing loss loud and clear amongst the solemnity.

The artist, a former member of comedy troupes The Upright Citizens Brigade and Second City, employs a gentle irony in this piece that is a bit more pronounced in the absurd juxtapositions of images such as paper airplanes and horseshoes in "How We Met" and the tangle of thread and antique typewriter in "Strike a Pose."

The exhibit includes more than a dozen works from Nashville artist Lesley Patterson-Marx. Inspired by the transiency of delicate found objects, Patterson-Marx employs a reverence for nature and a pronounced nostalgia in softly hued constructions of repeated printed images stitched together with colored threads, bits of rick-rack trim, old maps, the frayed pages of printed words, ancient photos and insect wings. These utterly lovely, almost pocket-sized pieces are wrought with dreamlike memories. Birds and butterflies run rampant in this body of work while the faded photo image of an elderly woman in a house dress — perhaps a dear departed great grandma — also figures prominently in several pieces. The mantra "I am a speck of dust, the world was created for me" often appears, evoking a universal search for meaning and identity in a world of fleeting and timeless beauty.

It’s a concept that is addressed by a different execution in Jennifer Manzella’s "Stacking Time." This Athens artist brings printmaking head-to-head with monumental sculpture in a larger-than-life, three-dimensional construction of handmade embossed kudzu paper. Calling to mind a leaning tower or crumbling column, this delicate but totemic form is an ode to a ubiquitous and uncontrollable natural element of our local landscape transformed into an iconic, man-made object.

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