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A new show featuring the work of Sandow Birk and Nicola Lopez is scheduled to open March 27th at the Betty Rymer Gallery.

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INVASIVE, a new show featuring the work of Sandow Birk and Nicola Lopez, will run from 3/3 to 3/31 at the Betty Rymer Gallery. SAIC student Emile Marie Ferris sat down with curator Jeanine Coupe-Ryding to find out more about the show.

Emile Marie Ferris: Please explain the theme of this show.

Jeanine Coupe-Ryding: “Invasive” refers to the basic premise that the artists, Nicola Lopez and Sandow Birk, are working from. In Lopez’s prints, the theme of invasion addresses the natural and human-built worlds expanding unpredictably and taking over their surroundings. She explores the tension of what is planned and what goes beyond our control. In Sandow Birk’s series of prints “The Depravities of War” we see a planned invasion that has roots in wars of the past, but has also created its own conflicts that spiral out of control. Both artists work explore our relationship to the world.

EMF: Please speak to any specific challenges in curating this exhibit.

JCR: Over a year ago it seemed like a juggling act. Working with the needs of the Exhibitions Committee in presenting the idea of the show, the needs of the artists in terms of displaying their work, and fitting the exhibition into the theme of the print conference (hosted by Anchor Graphics at Columbia College) was not easy. I was very fortunate to have the help and enthusiasm of the graduate students in PrintMedia– Kristina Paabus, Katy Collier, Nate Chung, Jessica Taylor and J. Clayton (who has graduated)– who helped to craft this exhibition, and who met with me and the Exhibitions Committee to deliver ideas and field questions. They felt as excited about this show as I did.

EMF: How can traditional media speak to contemporary notions of our world?

JCR: Both artists began with a traditional approach to printmaking and coaxed the medium toward their ideas into a new territory. I saw Sandow Birk’s “The Depravities of War” prints in 2008 and was very interested in how he reconciled the incorporation of Jacques Callot and Francisco de Goya’s political prints with representing the war we are fighting in Iraq. Some of the same earlier etchers’ compositions are combined with contemporary imagery on a much larger scale.

Calling on these centuries-old prints of the same theme brings the recurrent situation of war into our focus. The immediacy of photographic digital images sent from the front is similar to Birk’s method of rapidly carving large plywood sheets with images he saw, sometimes within days of the actual events they depict. In Nicola Lopez’s work she begins with the traditional medium of woodcut and lithography and prints on mylar. She frees the image from paper and from two-dimensions as she takes the prints into space, twisting, draping and making new boundaries for the work.

EMF: In what ways do you see this exhibit speaking to the SAIC community, and possibly the larger community?

JCR: When artists make work inspired by contemporary issues and political situations they offer a unique insight that is not like what we see on television, read in newspapers, or see online. Their creative efforts are the result of subjective initiative funneled through the medium they are using. I think the work in this exhibition shows the passion each artist feels toward their ideas and their medium, and it is particularly evident in the drawing, carving and scale of these pieces. The issues here are things that impact each of us as artists, citizens of the world and of the United States.

Our community of supportive souls is part of a world in which time has become compressed: digital files can circle the world in seconds, and new technologies change the nature of exchange. Prints can be made and exhibitions can be mounted in ways that break away from sterile white walls to include installations, printed artists’ books, graffiti prints and paste-ups on city streets, ‘zines and comics, even work that exists only in cyberspace.

Invasive is scheduled to open March 27 from 4:30-8 p.m. at the Rymer Gallery. The exhibition, which will run March 3-31, is in conjunction with the SAIC Department of Printmedia and the Rymer Gallery.

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