Carrie Ann Plank & Robynn Smith
Carrie Ann Plank and Robynn Smith have been investigating relationships between technology and traditional printmaking techniques, both within the realm of their personal work, as well as in global printmaking practices. A recent lecture by the two at the Íslensk Grafík in Reykjavík, Iceland inspired a cross cultural exchange of work and ideas between Icelandic printmakers and San Francisco Bay Area printmakers in relation to this space between technology and tradition. The exchange led to a curation of the exhibition, Technology and Touch, focusing on the variety of approaches to technology in the two disparate locales. Featuring the work of Icelandic artists: Greta Mjöll Bjarnadóttir, Valgerdur Hauksdóttir, Elvar Örn Kjartansson, Soffía Sæmundsdóttir, Laura Valentino, and Bay Area artists: Jimin Lee, Monica Farrar Miller, Michelle Murillo, Carrie Ann Plank, and Robynn Smith, the exhibition will travel from San Francisco at the Academy of Art University’s 688 Gallery in Union Square (November 2017) to the Southern Graphics Council International in Las Vegas at the Priscilla Fowler Fine Art gallery (April 2018) to Reykjavík in the gallery of the Icelandic Printmakers Association, Íslensk Grafík, IPA Gallery/Grafiksalurinn, within the Reykjavík Art Museum building during the Culture Night festival (August 2018). Discussions, gallery talks and workshops accompany all of the exhibitions, resulting in the sharing of contemporary technologies and traditional printmaking practices across cultures.
Co-curators: Carrie Ann Plank and Robynn Smith Photo credit: Bob Toy
The authenticity of art resides in human expression, in our ability to use tools to further our ideas. The hand refers to the individual. It is our personal mark, our connection with our humanity, our relationship with nature and the wild. Technology is innovation; bright, shiny and complex. Since the advent of the printing press, a major technological breakthrough, printmaking has always reflected the relationship between technology and the hand. A mark is made, and through the alchemy of technology, that mark is transformed and transferred to another surface. That relationship is always there, from the Gutenberg Bible of the mid 15th century to today’s laser cutters and photopolymer plates, the best printmakers seek just the right balance of handwork and technology.photopolymer plates, the best printmakers
Artists from the project at the artist talk in San Francisco (left to right): Elvar Örn Kjartansson, Laura Valentino, Greta Mjöll Bjarnadóttir, Michelle Murillo, Carrie Ann Plank, Robynn Smith, Soffía Sæmundsdóttir, and Valgerdur Hauksdóttir. Carrie Ann Plank’s Data Rondures (Large Forms) in background. Photo credit: Bob Toy
Both Reykjavík and the San Francisco Bay Area function as technological giants, yet in both places it is possible to feel the primitive, powerful nature of the wild. A five-minute drive out of Iceland’s capital is a primordial landscape of hot springs and lava. Standing a few hundred yards from the Golden Gate Bridge, the power of the Pacific Ocean is unfurled in an unbroken vista, all the way to Japan. Does the proximately to such dramatic landscape affect an artist’s use of technology? Does technology offer artists new tools to express their connection to the natural world?
Every printmaker must strike a balance between technology and touch. This exhibition explores that balance, showcasing printmakers from two cities with a striking relationship between contemporary technology and the timelessness of nature.
Two magnificently beautiful cities, both technology and trade hubs focused on the future, steeped in tradition and full of printmakers. Is there a connection?
This question is what motivated us to explore an international exchange between printmakers from the San Francisco Bay Area and Íslensk Grafík, the Icelandic Printmakers Association based in Reykjavík.