Singularity: The Unique Print

Justin Campaniello
Catherine Kernan
Jan Cadman Powell

June 6 - August 1, 2014

Artists have been making monotypes and monoprints as far back as the seventeenth century, although the term “monotype,” meaning one print, wasn’t coined until much later in the nineteenth century by the American artist Charles Alvah Walker (Joann Moser, Singular Impressions, 1997). Artists such as Edgar Degas, William Merritt Chase, Richard Diebenkorn, and Michael Mazur have all experimented with the “painterly print.”

Justin Campaniello, Proper Grooming
Justin Campaniello, Proper Grooming,
silkscreen monoprint (click to enlarge)

A monotype, unlike other forms of printmaking, is meant to be unique. A monoprint is likewise except that there will be a repeatable printed matrix somewhere in the print. Nonetheless, the result is singular, an edition of one. Artists often choose to pull a second or possibly a third print off the plate, but these images are much lighter in tone, often more detailed, and are known as ghosts or cognate prints, separate from the first press.

Justin Campaniello arrives in Groton with a freshly minted BFA from UMass Lowell, yet his work exudes a maturity beyond his years. His silkscreen monotypes, cut up and reassembled in crude fashion, photographed and printed through light sensitive emulsion on a huge hand built silkscreen that Campaniello designed himself, speak to impermanence and dissolution. There is a hint of violence wed to a poetic sensibility, pointing to the disintegration of that which we normally find substantive.

Drifting #1 by Catherine Kernan
Catherine Kernan, Drifting #1, woodblock monoprint

Catherine Kernan’s work is exhibited internationally and she is represented by galleries in Boston, Philadelphia, and New York, among others. She is the co-founder and co-owner of Mixit Print, a cooperative printmaking studio in Somerville, Massachusetts, as well as the Director of Maud Morgan Arts in Cambridge, Ma. Kernan carves large woodblocks using routers and other power tools as well as a lifetime of experience with mark making. A suspicion against the overly precious leads her to subvert easy/obvious solutions by allowing for chance and accident in her work. In Kernan’s prints, the whorls and skeins of Akua inks allude to botanical reflections, but in the end are quite removed from the pond, stream or swamp in which they began.

Jan Cadman Powell’s monotypes refer to knitted pattern and thus have readily available connotations of women’s work and domesticity. The choice of carborundum grits, painted on a plate with an adhesive medium, adds an industrial edge to this reading. In her own words, these can be read as a decorative account, a historical document, or “a statement pertaining to the continuity of the human condition.” Jan Powell holds a Master of Arts in Printmaking from Camberwell College in London England. An internationally exhibited artist, she has shown her work extensively throughout New England and taught at the DeCordova Museum School in Lincoln, Massachusetts.

Jan Cadman Powell, Living with Links #4, carborundum monotype

The monotype was once denigrated as an easy way to make a print, but in the 21st century artists have explored ways of making monotypes and monoprints that subvert this notion, which was, perhaps, always suspect. From enormous hand built silkscreens to the laborious carving of woodblocks to the careful application of industrial grit to a plate, these three artists have found and developed singular methods of making their prints. Regardless of whether the monotype is their primary medium, their medium for now, or simply part of their oeuvre, the viability of the artist’s monotype in the 21st century as a worthy tool of artistic practice and output is clear.

A reception with the artists will be held on Tuesday, June 24, from 6:30-8:00 pm. All are welcome.

This exhibit is made possible by the Groton Public Library Endowment Trust.

Deborah Santoro