HANFORD — The Kings Art Center will celebrate the “Traces Left Behind” with a new exhibit opening Friday.
The show, dubbed Traces Left Behind, features work by members of the California Society of Printmakers, a nonprofit organization that promotes the practice and appreciation of contemporary fine art printmaking.
A print is made by transferring an image from one surface, such as a metal plate or carved wooden block, onto paper or another support. Thus the final work of art that the viewer enjoys consists of “the traces left behind” from the surface that the artist originally worked.
Three pieces by artist Monique Wales will be on display during the exhibit, which runs Aug. 4 through Sept. 1 in the Kings Art Center’s Marcellus Gallery.
Wales’ work has been shown twice before at the Arts Center, once as recently as last month, as a piece of hers was featured in the 33rd annual Yosemite Renaissance exhibit that ran through July 21.
“Printmaking is the art of reproduction. It’s multiples of an original,” she said.
The process involves making multiple reproductions — generally on paper — of an original work of art using an original matrix – which can be made from wood, stone, metal, linoleum or other materials — and ink. And while the process can produce many “copies” of the original, each “copy” is unique due to slight differences, even deteriorations, in the creation.
The style evokes chaos theory as explained by Jeff Goldblum’s character in “Jurassic Park,” when he said, “Tiny variations … never repeat and vastly affect the outcome.”
After taking her first printmaking class, Wales immediately went home and asked her husband, a carpenter, to make her a press.
“I told him, ‘I need a press because I think I’m going to do this as a living,’” she said. “I was hooked instantly. It’s magical, it’s meditative. It’s a wonderful, calming art that’s also very exciting to me.”
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The artist tends to make small runs with about 30-40 prints made per design, anything beyond that has the potential to get boring, she said.
“It’s too much like factory work. I want to make art,” she said. “I get bored and want to move on to the next one.”
Wales said that people who come to her open studio, Red Tail Studios in Oakhurst, will often sign up for full classes after being exposed to the art form.
“That’s exciting for me because that’s how I was,” she said. “It makes me feel good to know I’ve passed on my passion.”
Wales said she takes a great deal of inspiration from the plants and animals of California.
Right now, she’s particular interested in the “odd-looking” desert candle, a type of wildflower that is common in the Mojave Desert, yet has somehow remained in parts of the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains.
“This is the kind of thing I like to tell people and encourage them to go explore the outdoor universe instead of sitting at their desks or playing on their computer,” she said. “I try to excite people about our native flora and fauna — before it’s all gone.”
The exhibit will feature work by many other artists, including Shunsuke Ando, Joanna Kidd, Sandra Kelch and more.
The mission of the California Society of Printmakers is to support the integrity of traditional printmaking while providing a home for artists exploring new directions in contemporary print methods. To that end, the California Society of Printmakers organizes exhibitions of members’ artwork, artist talks, demos, lectures, artist residencies and an annual journal publication.