Conkling gallery challenges social issues of the present

Conkling Gallery is showing prints from five different artists that critique present society in their current show titled “Prints Against the Present.” The artists’ styles range from transitional to contemporary mediums of printmaking, all coming together under a common theme. 

Valerie Leuth is one of the printmakers who was invited to be in the gallery. Leuth described how her art plays into the theme, “I think as far as ‘Prints Against the Present,’ I operate in my making process, always considering the present moment that we’re in.”

Leuth doesn’t often cater her art to gallery themes, however, she does cater her art to the public. Leuth said, “It seems like a really great mix of people, but I tend to lean towards the sort of mystic, spiritual, kind of magical explorations of the world that we live in and how we relate to it as human beings and things of that nature.”

Printmaking is an artistic process of creating a design on a transferable material, and printing it onto another – often fabric or paper. Leuth said, “Printmaking is so time consuming and every decision ends up being purposeful.”

The medium of printmaking Leuth uses to create her art is woodblocks. She explained, “There are so many different mediums for printmaking. I draw directly on woodblocks. Once I have my drawings made, I carved them out all by hand. Once the drawings are carved, I can roll ink on them and then print the paper.” 

In order to create complex designs, Leuth often creates multiple woodblocks to create color works. The different prints created by the blocks are then stacked on top of eachother to create one cohesive yet colorful image. She commented, “I think that perhaps that’s what caught Josh’s attention; is that I am a very meticulous and consistent printmaker that really considers the craft.” 

Other printmaking techniques included in the gallery include lithography and silkscreen printing. Lithography uses a flat stone or metal sheet to transfer the image, and silkscreen printmaking creates the image via ink over a stencil design. 

Leuth is hopeful that from her art as well as the other artist, students can see an example in the craft,”I hope that they are able to see the possibilities that exist with image and the different approaches that can be taken to making artwork.”

She continued, “When I was in school seeing other printmakers’ works was so impactful. Sometimes you don’t know what you can do until you see someone else having done it and then that provides a launching point for your own work or your own ideas.” 

The gallery will be available to view until Sept. 23, with the panel talk taking place Sept. 14 in Ostrander Auditorium.

Header Photo: Artist Kill Joy uses printmaking to send messages about social and environmental justice. (Lilly Anderson/The Reporter)

Write to Lilly Schmidt at Lillian.Schmidt@mnsu.edu

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