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Emily Mason - Chromatic Celebrations

July 2 - August 16, 2015

On Thursday, July 2 Emily Mason's exhibit Chromatic Celebrations will be opening with a reception at Mitchell • Giddings Fine Arts from 5 - 7pm at 183 Main Street, Brattleboro.

Chromatic Celebrations, the featured exhibit from July 2 to August 16, 2015, showcases Emily Mason's printmaking production and illustrates a richness and spontaneity equal to her paintings in oil.

Emily Mason, recognized for her abstract paintings, has pioneered with several master printmakers since the mid 1980s to establish a singularly rich and distinctive body of prints. Several different printmaking techniques are represented. Common to all is an involvement with a variety of processes leading to a mixture of sharp focus and ambiguity. She embraces unique states, giving each work its own space. Imperfections are welcomed. If a tinge of red-orange reveals itself in the registration we read it not as a flaw, but as a brightly colored wink from Mason herself.

"Through a quarter century of activity, Mason has expended ceaseless energy and demonstrated ingenuity to create a varied body of prints . . . Mason truly lights up when speaking about her prints. Sifting through the vast array in her studio, Mason is able to reminisce about each one as if it had just recently come off the press. Impressively, her recollections often include precisely why she selected a particular color palette or how she switched or adapted her plates to achieve certain effects. Printmaking is an integral part of her artistic process, influencing her painting as much as painting informs her printmaking"

Christina Weyl
from essay, Emily Mason: A Painterly Printmaker, 2015

Technical Notes

Chromatic Celebrations features prints from Mason's work with four different master printers, since 1987: Garner Tullis, Hand Graphics, Lisa Mackie, and Janis Stemmermann.

The first group, marked with 'GTW,' are works Mason completed in Santa Barbara, California at the Garner Tullis Workshop in 1987. These works are all monotypes, unique prints created without a matrix. Unlike most print presses, where the papers are pushed through a press using rollers, Garner Tullis used a press that impressed the plate onto the paper from above (as with an old letter press). Mason would 'ink' up the plate and during the process, the paper would absorb the spontaneous gesture of the original mark.

The works marked 'LM' indicate Mason's work with printer Lisa Mackie. This relationship began in 1989 and continues through today. With Mackie, Mason worked with all sorts of techniques to create her monoprints. Two of the more experimental moves that distinguishes the early period of their work together is the use of chine collé and the silk collagraph matrix. Mason uses the chine collé paper as complement to her silk collagraph etchings. Areas of fiber and color submerge and emerge under the layers of inks and additive gestures (see Shadows, 1990). Sometimes, we even find Mason using paper to mask out areas, in order to maintain and shape some of the previous layers (Led the Way, 1991). In recent years, Mason and Mackie have been creating prints using a technique called Solarplate, a photogravure method developed by Dan Feldman. These works are all generated from a collection of gestures layered with tens of impressions, each completely unique.

Hand Graphics ('HG') is another short-term workshop Mason completed in Sante Fe in 1993. In these works, Emily is creating monotypes, painting on a couple standard sized plates and printing. These works are clean and spontaneous and show a sophistication in Mason's experimentation. Unlike the gestures in her Garner Tullis series, which feature marks and gestures akin to her oils on paper of the seventies and eighties, these prints fully embrace the printmaking elements for their inherent attributes. Mason overprints marks with veils of color and transparency to elaborate on a composition. Oftentimes, she relies on simple, revelatory mark making, where the touch of the brush or ink roller is apparent (Hollows, 1993)

Mason's work with Janis Stemmermann ('JS') began in1987 when they met at Catherine Mosely's studio for a print commission sponsored by American Associated Artists. The collaboration continued through 2010. With Stemmermann, Mason created two editions Red Wing and Harvest Moon, 1991 and a large series of carborundum monoprints spanning over fifteen years. Stemmermann helped develop Mason's carborundum printing technique where a substrate of grit and acrylic medium is painted over a plexiglass plate. The result is, again, a layering of spontaneous gestures staged over. With each impression, Mason could go back into the plate to add and subtract her gesture.