At the end of the school year, graduates of the University of Alberta’s Fine Arts programs used to exhibit their works on campus in the Fine Arts Building, but since 2008 a local gallery, Society of Northern Alberta Print-Artists (SNAP), has boosted their talents by giving them a more public platform.
“SNAP Gallery has taken on the responsibility of taking on these young artists and introducing them into the community,” says Anna-Karolina Szul , executive director of the SNAP Gallery. “The students have the opportunity to work with a real gallery … and get a hands-on experience of what it will be like when they’re out of school [and] applying for real exhibitions.”
Szul has been with SNAP for past two years and took part in the first print art exhibition at SNAP as a student exhibitioner in 2007. “This is important because there aren’t a lot of opportunities like this,” she says. “It was priceless when I was on the receiving end of it.”
This year’s show, Walking on Walls, features work by BFA and MFA students, each of whom have a different approach to the idea of digital and print art.
Artist Eva Schneider juxtaposed photographs of industrialized areas with drawings of plant life from the River Valley, while Megan Stein carved sketches of anthropomorphized cats into Baltic plywood (the result being elongated upright creatures with jagged lines). Another memorable exhibit, by Taryn Kneteman, features photographs of the Frankfurt airport tarmac printed on coloured canvases.
There are also handmade art books, set on pillars, that are so delicate one is required to wear a pair of nearby white gloves to flip through them. Ellen Prosko, a BFA student majoring in printmaking, put together one of books. Prosko explains that hers was a class assignment where each student of the class was to interpret their personal reactions to Ovid’s epic Metamorphoses, a 2000-year-old book of poetry about the transformations the world underwent during the time of the Greek Gods.
For her book, Prosko used drawings and photo transfers of nature and the inside of her grandparents’ cabin. Prosko also experimented with a technique of printing photos onto a transparent plastic film, ironing it to a copper plate until the ink transfers, and then placing the plate into an acid bath for a harsh texture.
Prosko spent a total of 16 hours stitching all four books. “I treated each page [of stitching] as a different signature.”
And like each page in Prosko’s book, the exhibited artists have their own signature on print and digital media.
Walking on Walls runs until May 19 at SNAP Gallery (10123 121 St.)