The “2017 Wheaton Biennial: Printmaking Reimagined,” featuring work by 60 artists from 30 states, Canada and Sweden, is an exciting show thanks to the many facets and techniques of the printmaking genre it presents . From traditional linocuts and lithographs to the more modern relief prints and works presented on tissue, cot ton and Asian-made papers that have found a welcoming audience in the expanding craft shows and markets that have blossomed over the past decade, along with the screen prints that became such a major part of the art and culture component of the 1960s and are making a comeback, as both an advertising and political tool, plus works created in the new frontier of digital and 3-D printmaking, this show promises to be a rich experience for its viewers.
When the call for entries for the 2017 Wheaton Biennial went out in mid-August, the country’s political discourse was growingly caustic, although nothing like its current state. By the time the November 15 deadline arrived, we were in a very different place. The works in this show with a political flavor remind us is that the issues that have brought out such loud passion over the past months didn’t arrive on January 20; they’ve been bubbling underneath us for years.
The timeliness of the work, addressing issues of importance to students and the community at large, will encourage discussion among those visiting the exhibition and provide starting points in Wheaton classrooms. “There is some overtly political work — addressing police violence, for example, work that explores the environment and the body, and work that considers cultural diasporas — all of which feels very current and relevant,” said gallery director and show curator, Michele L’Heureux.
“I think these topics — and many of the other subject matter in the show — will resonate a lot with our students, faculty and staff, particularly with faculty teaching courses in the humanities, science, and social sciences,” L’Heureux said. “Not only will there be plenty of opportunities for cross-disciplinary dialogue, but the show will be very handsome, with lots of work that is quite beautiful and also technically accomplished, so I think it will appeal to a wide cross-section of our college population for different reasons.”