News Column

Pressing the issue

August 17, 2014

By Michelle Ramos, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Aug. 17--What would you expect to see at an exhibit titled "Bite Burn Scratch"? Teeth, fire, fingernails?

The exhibit, named after art techniques, showcases 23 intaglio prints by members of the Honolulu Printmakers.

"'Bite' is the acid biting into the metal plate," said artist Denise Karabinus, curator of the show.

"Burning" is a term used for a technique in which acid is applied to a plate, while "scratching" indicates a design needled directly into a plate.

Karabinus, whose piece "To Have and To Hold" is included in the show, has been involved with printmaking for 20 years.

This is Karabinus' first time as a curator.

"The Honolulu Printmakers support a lot of artists who work in very different techniques and styles," Karabinus said. "In this exhibition I really wanted to be able to show that range, and I think we've really accomplished that because you see everything from very abstract to very precise and realistic."

"Range" also applied to the artists themselves -- a couple of artists are recent graduates of the University of Hawaii, while others have been printmaking for decades -- and to the types of materials, toxic versus nontoxic, being used.

"I wanted to be inclusive in the show, and I wanted to actually show the full range (of printmaking) and in some ways I wanted us to be able to compare and contrast traditional methods with new methods to see if people are really getting the results that they want in the new, safer methods," Karabinus said.

In an article published last month on the Honolulu Printmakers' blog, executive director Duncan Dempster said one of his goals is to clean up the printmaking process by looking at ways to make the Printmaker studio at the Honolulu Museum of Art School safer through better ventilation and use of less-toxic materials.

Joshua Tollefson, an art teacher at Punahou School, is a member of the Printmakers.

When he began teaching 12 years ago, Tollefson used traditional, toxic materials -- acid, oil-based paints, solvents, etc.

About two years later, Tollefson embraced nontoxic supplies both for his own work and in the classroom. He substituted water-based paints for oils, eliminating the need for paint thinners and other toxic solvents.

"I wanted to protect the students that I work with," he said.

Tollefson's "Sun Worship," included in the exhibit, used a pen-and-ink drawing and three separate solar plates; these replaced traditional metal plates.

The solar plates allowed Tollefson to use ultraviolet rays from sunlight and water to replace acid in creating lines on the plates. He then used water-based ink to print his design to paper.

"It's been kind of an opening for me as an artist," Tollefson said. "I'm equally happy of what I can make in this nontoxic way. I don't miss (toxic supplies)."

Tollefson said that when he looks at artists' prints he focuses on concept and image, and can't always discern whether toxic or nontoxic supplies were used.

Karabinus, on the other hand, looks at a piece of art and sees the techniques used to create the print.

Her favorite piece in the exhibit is one made through the traditional method of aquatint and drypoint.

Karabinus said it took months to make some of the pieces because of the different shades and density of color the artists worked to achieve.

The artist lineup includes Regina Bode, Pratisha Budhiraja, Carol Collette, Ann Kondo Corum, Dempster, Marika Emi, Kandi Everett, Andrew Feducia, Sonny Ganaden, Jonathon Goebel, Edd Ikeda, Kyle Jablonski, Wallace Katterhagen, Ileana Lee, Ayako Linden, Joseph Nam, Dave Randall, Margo Ray, Nancy Vilhauer, Jared Wickware and George Woollard.


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Source: Honolulu Star-Advertiser (HI)

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