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Printmaking exhibit at Leu combines regional projects

The Leu Art Gallery is hosting a regional portfolio exchange through most of October that combines an unique medium, printmaking, with the work of artists in Nashville and on the other side of the country.

Its title, “Tributaries,” reflects the project’s conglomeration of prints from the South and Mountain West, said gallery director Jessica Owings.

“[It’s] the place where two forces come together and meet,” she said, “just as the artists from both studios did for the creation of the exhibit.”

The two studios connected when Owings visited Colorado several summers ago and came across one of the collaborators, Red Delicious Prints, by accident.

She said she was thrilled to learn the studio was willing to collaborate on a potential project with Nashville’s Platetone Printshop, a shop where Owings herself is an active artist.

Owings then pitched her idea to the Belmont’s art board, who approved the portfolio exchange and asked 16 printmakers to start working in January 2011 on the project to be completed last June.

Months after that deadline, “Tributaries” opened to a public reception on Sept. 6 in the Leu Gallery as part of the Southern Graphics Council’s regional conference and portfolio exchange.

Owings was pleased with how many “independently curious” students from in and around Nashville.

At the event, attendees were encouraged to also fold paper boats while participating in the gallery’s first-ever interactive printmaking exhibit.

“The idea is that the boats serve as a vehicle for the journey,” said Owings.

The boats will continue to be on display with the rest of the exhibit until Oct. 24.

Owings said people should have awareness of printmaking because it “keeps people working with their hands” despite the technological advances some mediums have made.

“Printmaking is the bridge between fine art and design,” Owings said. “The more we move into the realm of functionality, it is important to keep using hand and body.”

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