TACOMA, Wash. – On view at Kittredge Gallery in October and early November are two new exhibitions of contemporary prints and sculpture, both drawing from familiar sources to create works that strive to shift the way we see our everyday world.
In the Large Gallery is a body of work by printmaker Randy Bolton, who uses imagery from mass media and popular sources that he then alters and recombines through a collage-like process. The resulting images feel at first familiar and comfortable but carry an undercurrent of uncertainty or apprehension that undermines the viewer’s initial emotional response.
Bolton has said: “For some time now in my work, I have aimed to communicate my ambivalent feelings of fascination and dismay about contemporary culture and society. My recent large-scale digital banner prints on canvas and the smaller screenprints on paper build upon the historic tradition of printmaking as a democratic voice, while expanding the discipline into new directions in terms of innovative approaches to process and content as a means of contemporary public discourse. ... I hope that viewers will be gently nudged into a different way of seeing and thinking. For an unblinking moment, maybe there will be an awareness of how appearances can deceive and how images can manipulate emotions to create a false sense of contentment and security.”
Bolton teaches at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, where he has been head of the print media department since 2002. Prior to that appointment, from 1989 to 2002, he was professor of art and printmaking area coordinator at University of Delaware. Bolton received his B.F.A. from University of North Texas and his M.F.A. from The Ohio State University. He has taught at institutions across the country, including four years at School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Bolton’s work has been exhibited widely since 1982. Recent one-person and group exhibitions include, Twice-Told Tales at Cranbrook Art Museum in Michigan; Two Sides to Every Story, Littlejohn Contemporary, New York; Books of Nonsense, Evergreen House, Baltimore; Yes, We, Can, Things Are Rarely What They Seem and Chase, Tumble, Slide, Schmidt/Dean Gallery, Philadelphia; Three American Artists, Glasgow Print Studio, Scotland; and Trouble in Paradise: Examining Discord Between Nature and Society at Tucson Museum of Art.
Bolton has participated in numerous artist residencies, and his prints are in many corporate and museum collections around the country, including Detroit Institute of Arts Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Art Institute of Chicago, and New York Public Library.
Bolton will be at Puget Sound for a weeklong residency in November, lecturing and teaching workshops as part of the art department’s new visiting artist program, Living Art.
On view in the Small Gallery is new work by Tacoma sculptor Holly A. Senn, who is known for her sculptures and installations created from discarded library books. In these labor-intensive works she explores the lifecycle of ideas—how ideas are generated, dispersed, referenced, or forgotten.
She has stated: “I transform books—recognizable symbols of recorded and shared information—and their pages into new forms, using the iconic materials to consider the recursive nature of ideas. Because I look at permanence and impermanence, organisms and processes with visible regeneration cycles inspire my art.”
Scavenged showcases a body of new work: forms inspired by specimens from the collection of some 1,300 bird nests at Puget Sound’s Slater Museum of Natural History. Senn has said of this work: “I am fascinated by how birds collect a variety of materials and bring them together to make nests. In Scavenged I explore how knowledge can be repurposed; I turn text into objects, objects into shelters, and shelters into text by using book pages to create nests. The scavenging and assembling processes of nest building are similar to what I do when I make ephemeral sculptures and installations.”
Senn received an M.L.I.S. degree from University of California, Berkeley, and a B.A. from Mills College. Her recent installations include Inhabit at Gallery @ the Jupiter in Portland; Cover at Doppler PDX in Portland; Tale at 23 Sandy Gallery in Portland; and Windows on Nature and Knowledge at Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn. She received the Artist Trust Grant for Artists Projects and a Tacoma Arts Commission Tacoma Artists Initiative Program grant. Since 2001 Senn has lived and worked in Tacoma. In addition to working as an artist, she is a librarian at Pacific Lutheran University. She has worked in corporate and academic libraries since 1992.
A public reception for these exhibitions will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 9, from 5 to 7 p.m., in the gallery. This reception is free and open to the public; Holly A. Senn will be in attendance. Gallery talks by the artists will be scheduled during the run of the exhibition.
Kittredge Gallery serves as a teaching tool for the art department and a cultural resource for both the university and the community at large, exhibiting work by noted regional and national artists. Exhibits and talks are free and open to the public. Please note: The gallery will be closed Monday, Oct. 21, and Tuesday, Oct. 22, for fall break.
Oct. 9, 5 to 7 p.m., Kittredge Gallery
Gallery Location: University of Puget Sound, N. 15th St. at N. Lawrence St., Tacoma, WA
Directions and Map: pugetsound.edu/directions
Regular Hours: 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Mon.–Fri.; noon–5 p.m., Saturday
PRESS PHOTOS are available at pugetsound.edu/pressphotos or contact email@example.com; Tel. 253.879.2611
Photos on page: From top right: Our Town; Have a Terrific, Great, Nice, OK Day; Hard Lessons, all by Randy Bolton; Blackbird; Marsh Wren, both by Holly Senn.