Interpreting Nature, an exhibit of handmade prints by members of the Anne Arundel Community College Printmaking Club, highlights the broad variety of individual visions and styles of the group’s members and presents a wide range of printmaking techniques. Comprising etchings, lithographs, silkscreens and relief prints, the show is on view at the Adkins Arboretum Visitor’s Center through Oct. 29. Many of the artists will be present at a reception on Sat., Sept. 10 from 2 to 4 p.m. to talk about their ideas and techniques and to answer questions.
Founded in 2012 to foster collaboration and advanced learning, the AACC Printmaking Club includes faculty members and beginning to mid-career artists enrolled in the college’s art department programs. These include classes in intaglio, lithography, relief and silkscreen print techniques and the use of the department’s five presses and other printmaking equipment.
With an active membership of 25 artists, the club hosts visiting master printmakers and open houses in the printmaking studio for both the college and the community. It also holds annual member art shows that focus on developing professionalism in creating images, framing presentation and hanging and exhibiting prints. These shows have been held in AACC’s galleries and in venues on both the Eastern and Western shores.
Along with several other works, the show features a collaborative portfolio titled “Nature,” which had its beginnings in a field trip to Adkins Arboretum to provide members of the group with an opportunity to draw from nature.
Chris Mona, who serves as the club’s faculty advisor, noted, “We made this portfolio before COVID, and this is our first real public show, so we’re excited.”
The portfolio is composed of 15 original prints, created in each of the four techniques the college teaches, along with information about the artists and their work elegantly printed on a traditional letterpress and encased in a handsome custom-made box created in collaboration with Jill Cypher and Ray Nichols of Lead Graffiti in Newark, Del.
The portfolio includes one of Mona’s quirky lithographs, “Ma Rainey’s Lichens,” in which the celebrated blues singer’s eyes float in a field of frilly lichens, as well as Mary Bell Shock’s engaging intaglio of a hollow tree and Jake Muirhead’s intaglio, “Little Greenman,” with its strange face, straight out of folklore, staring hauntingly from deep in a bundle of spiky oak leaves.
Several more works, not in the portfolio, include Sandy Sapienza’s delicately nuanced eco print revealing every detail of the intricately patterned veins of a sprig of redbud leaves and Jenni Woolums’ silkscreen, “Hooper’s Eagles,” which captures the calm beauty of a stand of dying loblolly pines reflected in sky-blue water.
Perhaps the most unusual print in the show is “Smith Island #1,” with its dramatic sweep of shadowy black interlaced with a foamy white that suggests a breaking wave. It was created by Louise Wallendorf using a technique she calls “surf lithography.”
“Louise basically invented this,” said Mona, explaining how Wallendorf puts a lithography plate directly into the water. “Then the surf comes up and washes over the plate. She’s using the wave action, so the chemistry of the water creates the image.”
“I’m using bio-based chemistry,” Wallendorf said of the lithography emulsion that reacts to the water’s chemistry. “This particular plate was made over Columbus Day weekend after a Nor’easter full moon when Smith Island was flooded. Our Airbnb didn’t flood, but the water came close to the back door.”
This show is part of Adkins Arboretum’s ongoing exhibition series of work on natural themes by regional artists. It is on view through Oct. 29 at the Arboretum’s Visitor’s Center located at 12610 Eveland Road near Tuckahoe State Park in Ridgely. Contact the Arboretum at 410–634–2847, ext. 0 or [email protected] for gallery hours.
Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. For more information, visit adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.