Friday, July 22, 2011

All About Annie

A familiar smiling face in the screenprint studio is Annie Albagli. She has been working long hours in preparation for her upcoming show "Greetings from Paradise". We caught up with Annie to talk about screenprinting, paradise and the Pyramids.

SS: Tell us about your background, how you came to DC, and found Pyramid.
AA: I am a traditionally trained painter and sculptor, and studied at Boston University. During my time at BU I had the privilege of studying at the Scuola Internazionale Di Grafica in Venice, Italy—where I studied Itaglio and bookmaking. I moved back to DC after living in Dallas, Texas for close to a year, where myself and a colleague started a residency and gallery. My family lives close to DC so I thought it would be nice to be a little closer to home. I found Pyramid Atlantic through a friend of mine, Lindsay McCulloch—who knew I was searching for an artistic community. I am really lucky she pushed me to check it out!

SS: How long have you been screenprinting, and where did you learn?
AA: I have been screenprinting for the past year and learned at Pyramid, actually.

SS: What draws you to the screenprinting process, over other print media?
AA: I am drawn to many aspects of screenprint. I like the process—how the image changes from what you start with to how it exposes on the screen. I like trying to push the process and create space in my prints—which contradict the flatness inherit in screenprinting. I like the idea that the images on your screen are at your disposal —and I often find myself layering the same screens over and over and over again to create my image. The fact that once I have arrived at the right imagery on my screen I can layer those images with such an immediacy is very rewarding.

Annie's Screens
SS: Your upcoming solo show is about exploring the creation and invention of Paradise. It is exciting to see the pieces being created in the studio. How do you overcome the challenges of working large? 
AA: When working large—especially in a communal space, I try and break down the work into smaller pieces. Especially in screenprint you are limited to certain dimensions—the dimension of the screen, the exposure unit, the table etc. I have done my fair share of joining tables together, when no one else is working. But a lot of the process comes out of having to think like you are creating a puzzle—how can you maximize the space you have to work with, how can you fit multiple screens together to form your image, etc. Most recently I created a 54” x 44” screenprint and the only way I could achieve this was using five different screens and a very elaborate set up.

SS: Do you embrace "mistakes" in your work, or are you a perfectionist?
AA: Oh boy do I embrace “mistakes!” These serendipitous events help me understand another way I can create something, or other times how to improve my process—but once I have gone through a process and learned from it I become very obsessive over doing it correctly and methodically.

Annie in the studio
SS: People are always curious about success stories in the studio. Do you have any tips for those working at Pyramid?
AA: Yes! Watch the artists around you—learn from their process. One of the things I love about Pyramid is that there are always fresh faces around you and this means there are so many opportunities to learn something new about the way to approach the medium. We had one artist from Spain last year working in screenprint. Watching her print, I learned to be much more careful and particular about my process. Then earlier this year, I had the opportunity to see how one of the keyholder residents screenprinted—how she layered her prints, both with intention and to see the serendipitous affects it had on the work. Both of these experiences were equally influential in how I approach my prints now.

SS: Screenprinting is a versatile medium that can be applied to or combined with many surfaces. Your 2010 Eden tree series combined screenprinting, plywood and LED lights. What other screenprint artists do you think are pushing the boundaries of the medium?
AA: I recently saw some screenprints by Robert Rauchenberg and I was intrigued by the medium he printed on and the inks he used. I also had the privilege of assisting Charlie Cohan late last year with a large print installation he was creating for the Raleigh-Durham Airport. He spent a week or so printing on 2200 lbs of glass. That was pretty amazing.

SS: And lastly, did you experience a synchronicity using the pyramid metaphor in your art while working at Pyramid Atlantic? We hope this means you will be with us for eons. 
AA: Its so funny, it took me a while to realize that I was creating all this Pyramid work at Pyramid Atlantic! I have this dream of building a large lit up Pyramid that slowly rotates and installing it on Pyramid’s roof...
But yes, I guess Pyramid definitely gets into your head (or mine at least)... in ways you could never have foreseen.

Greetings From Paradise
Screenprints by Annie Albagli

Opening reception: Friday, July 29, 6-9pm
July 29 - August 27, 2011

Pleasant Plains Workshop
2608 Georgia Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20001

Metro: Shaw / Howard U on the Green Line; Metrobus: 70, 71 ; or capital bikeshare (station across from PPW) Gallery / Shop hours: Friday 2-7pm, Saturday 1-6pm and by appointment

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Baltimore's Best

A trip to Baltimore's big bash Artscape was further proof the art of screenprinting is thriving. Our own Sarah Hanks (below) displayed her "Gee Whiskers" screenprints at the Pyramid Atlantic Letterpress Printers booth.

These fantastic posters by Grand Wazoo are pure modern DADA: 
praying mantis scissorhands.

Powerhouse printer Jeffery Everett aka El Jefe Design has been producing limited edition screenprint posters since 2005.

Bright and bold color field posters from Briana Feola and Jason Snyder of Philadelphia's Brainstorm Print & Design.

Handpulled poster prints from Open Eye Press
They also produce "Eco-friendly and Handmade Goods".

And of course there were tee shirts and printed fabric galore. Baltimore and Brooklyn based Natty Paint had some excellent examples.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Becca's Box

"Kindness to Animals" streetbox by Rebecca Katz
Washington City Paper's Molly McGinley decided to commemorate the publication's 30th anniversary artistically. "As the paper’s circulation manager, I don’t get many opportunities to exercise my creative chops....I decided it would be an excellent opportunity to redesign the places where the papers live." she says on her blogpost. Streetbox Named Desire was the ideal challenge for Pyramid Atlantic. McGinley agrees: "after seeking advice from other newspapers, I decided to recruit an art studio, and found the perfect partnership in Silver Spring’s Pyramid Atlantic." 10 artists from our community were selected, including Screenprint Associate Rebecca Katz.

The versatility of screenprinting allowed Rebecca to transfer her trademark animal images and text directly on to the box. To create the bobcat, she screenprinted two colors (black and grey), and then painted the panel with water-based acrylic. Rebecca still cuts Rubylith—a plastic 2-ply sheet that can be peeled, leaving the shapes on an acetate ground—to create some of her screenprinting plates.

>See all the boxes and vote for your favorite here.

The finished box, at the Smithsonian Metro stop.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Class Axtmann

Definitely hands-on. (Annie)

An idea popped into Joanna Axtmann's head after Screenprint Society:"I want to introduce these six very talented and charming teens to screenprinting". Joanna has been running a summer art camp for the same half dozen students for more than a decade. Working with Screenprint Associate Marty Ittner, the pair planned an ambitious 2-session, 2-color workshop for the teens, who had no previous screenprinting experience. They were well prepared and up for the challenge. In just 7 hours, all 6 students not only printed tee shirts and paper in 2 colors, they also cleaned up the studio and reclaimed all 6 screens! Now that's impressive.

Joanna Axtmann (left) and Aziza in the screenprint studio.

The drying rack holds the first color pass on this moth print.

Zach loves blue
Supreme mixologist Celeste 

There was little time for socializing.
The six students jumped in, mixing ink, pulling prints and helped each other out. They were also game for the not-so-fun bits like studio clean up and screen reclaiming.

The happy (and yes, charming,) group show off their 2-color prints