Art 60 HM Workshop in Hand-Press Printing
Deceptively Reserved and Flat
March 21 - April 1, 2022
Susanna Barrett, Alexandria Borseth, Cassandra Burgess, Andi Chen, Adele Eslinger, Cassie George, Jeff Groves, Jane Hoffswell, Cecily Hunt, Kevin Ji, Sophia Lauf, Ignacio Lista, Kate McHale, Sheena Patel, Kaveh Pezeshki, Lim Ki Pheng, Risa Purow-Ruderman, Joseph Sinopoli, Shruthi Sukir, Chloe Taylor, Makeda Tekle-Smith, Celine Wang, Jake Weber, Piper Langer Weida, and Beverly Olivia Hsin-Rui Yeh
Cassandra Burgess, excerpts from An Octopus (1924) by Marianne Moore, 2017
Sprague Gallery is pleased to announce Art 60 HM Workshop in Hand-Press Printing – Deceptively Reserved and Flat. The exhibition surveys and selects from the Harvey Mudd College course taught by professor of literature Jeffrey D. Groves since 2008. The selected are among hundreds of works and editions made by the students and the professor and stored at the First Floor Press in The Claremont Colleges Library where the course takes place. Printers include: Susanna Barrett, Alexandria Borseth, Cassandra Burgess, Andi Chen, Adele Eslinger, Cassie George, Jeff Groves, Jane Hoffswell, Cecily Hunt, Kevin Ji, Sophia Lauf, Ignacio Lista, Kate McHale, Sheena Patel, Kaveh Pezeshki, Lim Ki Pheng, Risa Purow-Ruderman, Joseph Sinopoli, Shruthi Sukir, Chloe Taylor, Makeda Tekle-Smith, Celine Wang, Jake Weber, Piper Langer Weida, and Beverly Olivia Hsin-Rui Yeh.
The exhibition takes as its title a phrase from An Octopus by Marianne Moore (shortened and rearranged by Cassandra Burgess), which is the first work the viewer encounters upon entering the gallery: ‘An Octopus of ice. Deceptively reserved and flat, it lies “in grandeur and in mass” beneath a sea of shifting snow-dunes.’ The 1924 poem is a long focus on the octopus, which is really the glacier that covers the top of Mount Rainier, octopus-like to reach out to and into the world from all directions. ‘Made of glass that will bend,’ the octopus is an origin both frozen and flexible; and “picking periwinkles from the cracks,” it is set against a bloomed Modernist background of the 1920s when periwinkle first appears as a color word. The poem, considered counterweight to T. S. Eliot’s 1922 poem The Waste Land, is known for its quotation from and non-hierarchical treatment of a variety of high and low sources, such as pamphlets, magazines, literature, and even a conversation overheard; its juxtaposition of a woman poet, or femininity, with Modern poetry that is masculinized, made central, and impersonal; and its situation in nature.
The poem about the glacier and the mountain is a poem about close reading from distance both of the origin and of the outside world; multiple voices and authorities in one moment and place; self-identification with the other of many; and the natural sublime, which allows all to happen. What Moore contemplates is an understanding of the ‘deceptively reserved and flat,’ the mountain beneath it, and the world beyond it. It is to this understanding that the exhibition responds through its hand-press printed works of a similar variety of sources.
In printing, paper becomes a particular background: its flatness, along with its absorbency and flexibility, expands into and becomes one with the surface on which it places itself. Black ink, or the symbolic black of the text and picture in any color and the carefully chosen voice of one’s own source, becomes a particular matter: through its absence of all light, depth emerges. The horizontality and verticality of paper and ink know no boundaries. Some of the works on view make more direct suggestions of the unknown extent, for example, by folding or binding printed materials into figures or books; and Sophia Lauf’s work must be pressed from atop as the content, an excerpt from Vincent van Gogh’s 1889 letter to his brother Theo van Gogh, lies under bent vellum. Viewers are invited to interact with such works.
The ‘deceptively reserved and flat’ of the exhibition brings into inquiry a very particular dimension of and beyond its own.
Deceptively Reserved and Flat opens on March 21 and continues through April 1, 2022. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 8AM to 5PM. As a precautionary measure, the exhibition is open to students, faculty, and staff of The Claremont Colleges and registered visitors. Masks are required indoors and encouraged outside. The Covid-19 guidelins will be updated as new information becomes available.
The exhibition is curated by Julia Hong.
The First Floor Press, The Claremont Colleges Library