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Selections from North Adams: Re-mapping a history of print-making from Queen's

Jaclyne Grimoldby | Christine Kim | James Puffer | Katie Strang | Emily Turner | Alivia Veenstra

curated by Ellyn Walker

November 17, 2015 - January 23rd, 2016 Reception: Friday November 20, 5-7pm.

North Adams, Massachusetts, is an American city situated on the original territory of the Mahican peoples, located in the Adirondack and Berkshire mountain highlands. For thousands of years, Indigenous peoples have carved images into rock?in particular, around North Adams?imprinting the land with a unique visual language known as ‘petroglyphs’. Despite the Eastern Algonquians’ longstanding relationship with the land, such as evidenced by their extensive travel and mark-making, the area continued to be colonized during the 18th century, later ‘settled’ by American statesman and ‘Founding Father’ Samuel Adams, of whom North Adams takes its name.

Today, North Adams represents an important site of art production and presentation, as it is home to the largest printing press and art museum in North America: Gravity Press Experimental Print Shop and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. For more than twenty-five years now, graduating students from Queen’s BFA program have visited Gravity Press in North Adams with Queen’s printmaking professor Otis Tamasauskas, where they have the occasion to produce one-of-a-kind prints under the direction of Gravity Press’s master printmaker, Brandon Graving. This annual pilgrimage offers students and emerging artists a unique opportunity to experiment with large-scale woodcut printing techniques in a setting that contains more than 10,000 years of mark-making history.

What can we draw from North Adams’s early Indigenous inhabitance and their stylistic rock carvings known as petroglyphs? How does contemporary woodcut-printing function in similar ways to historic rock carving? This exhibition remaps some of the highlights from the annual Queen’s-North Adams exchange, evidencing diverse ways in which printing represents a creative practice akin to ‘mark-making’. Selections from North Adams also aims to show how North Adams remains a meaningful site of study and experimentation for Queen’s printmakers over the years, using works from the Department of Fine Arts’ print archive to explore multiple impressions of migration—pertinent considerations for colonized sites like North Adams, Massachusetts, and Kingston, Ontario.