October Surprise; Something Special at Lehman College Art Gallery

Paper Fortune Teller, 2009 by Melissa Brown
Paper Fortune Teller, 2009 by Melissa Brown

Tucked away in the beautiful campus grounds of Lehman College, is the Art Gallery which has an incredible space, comprised of 4 chambers, all of which have various ceiling heights and lighting.


It’s a great space to show work and the curatorial team did an excellent job of using both the space and light to amplify the drama, exuberance and excitement of the exhibition, "Morphology of Print."


In the largest room, to the far right (upon entering) is where there’s a surge of color. Before entering, I had difficulty imaging what pushing the boundaries of printmaking or exploring its strategies and techniques in new ways would look like.


Thankfully, I was treated to many visual gems that gave me an indication of the boundaries being tested.  This is a fantastic exhibition because you will truly experience artists taking risks and taking printmaking to places you never imagined.


One of the great show-stoppers of the exhibition is Jeremy Coleman Smith’s piece, “Fabricated Image/Reflective Space, 2013.” Upon a casual glance it looks like maybe a scene from your grandmother’s house, but upon closer inspection, you realize the entire scene or nearly 95% of it is constructed with cardboard and ink. In essence, it’s a 3-D greeting card on steroids—and it’s genius. This piece alone warrants a visit to the exhibition.


And it just keeps getting better and better. Across from Smith’s piece is Nicola López who upends the boring static image of a Flat 2-D print by dissecting it bit by bit and re-layering images over one another to yield a geometric reinterpretation that accentuates the visual chaos; she achieves a visual feast by creating something that is contained but explosive.


Melissa Brown also delivers a color bomb of print with, “Paper Fortune Teller,” that lures your gaze in and then locks you with visual characters from old cartoons, and other imagery all printed, painted and placed in geometric fashion so that it resembles a mega-large folded-out origami fortune teller that as kids we all had fun making. The imagery itself, portraying the “fortune,” is not as literal one might assume.


In the room, opposite the chamber with the colorful fireworks, is the chamber that contains work that is more subdued, and offering up a much more relaxed vibe. This is important, because much of the work employs the subtle excitement of digital embroidery.


When viewing the images, it’s that silent, “Oh Wow, how did she/he do that?” that you will say to yourself-over and over again. Digital embroidery utilizes software that effectively guides thread along a cloth/paper medium, stitching the thread into the desired image with a high level of precision.


Ghada Amer and Reza Farkhondeh, Jean Shin and Elaine Reichek all employed its use in very different ways but to the same effect: elevating what would have been otherwise static images to a new level of perspective.


This is what makes this exhibition so successful, taking the familiar and then giving it a twist that forces you to look at it as if it was new—and true to its name, there is a genuine morphology of print making occurring.


The Morphology of Print is being exhibited at Lehman College Art Gallery from October 8, 2013-January 8, 2014. The exhibition is FREE and is located Lehman College, 250 BedfordPark Boulevard West, Bronx NY.


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