"A Darkness," the newest exhibit at Pennsylvania College of Technology's The Gallery, centers on myth, fairy tales and the role darkness plays - not only as a narrative element, but as a tool available to the artist. The show, which opened Oct. 11 and runs through Nov. 10, "explores and encompasses storytelling from our different perspectives," according to Lauren Kinney and Paul Vincent, the artists who contributed the two bodies of work.
Though there is a definite link between the two bodies of work, the exhibit isn't a display of collaborative art. Kinney and Vincent are married and both create and show their works independently.
"The two artists applied separately, and our exhibition committee selected both. The general consensus was that the works complemented each other, and we should offer them a two-person exhibit. Once I contacted the artists, it turned out that they were a couple," explained gallery manager Penny Lutz.
Shown is a woodcut by Lauren Kinney titled “drawers” is part of “A Darkness,” an exhibit at Pennsylvania College of Technology’s The Gallery.
Kinney and Vincent both earned Master of Fine Arts degrees in printmaking from Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, Arizona State University. They have both taught at Lawrence Art Center in Lawrence, Kan., though Vincent recently started a position as an assistant professor of printmaking at Minnesota State University in Moorhead, Minn., and Kinney has been selected to serve as gallery director for the same school.
"Kinney uses hidden pictures, symbols and patterns to weave collected imagery into narrative. Vincent engages the physicality of the print, paper and book to survey the interconnection of animal and human in folktales and fairy tales," according to the gallery press release.
The show's title "is ... both conceptual and aesthetic," Kinney explained. "It's a dark 'mood' but it is also a reference to the fact it's visually dark. Some of our interest is in old the Brothers Grimm fairy tales and other stories that have a sense of doom about them."
Despite that darkness, and just like some of the folk and fairy tales that served as inspiration, there is certain sense of whimsy in both artists' work. Take for example Kinney's 2012 woodcut "Much of a Madness," in which a mouse at a typewriter on a cluttered desk spins out a seemingly endless scroll of symbols and dingbats. Or take Vincent's 2012 work "A Conspiring Husk" (a combination of carving and handmade paper letterpress-printed with lipstick and screenprinted with eye shadow pigment) in which three clothed and bipedal rabbits hold leads to what at first appears to be a network of butterflies. Upon closer inspection, the "butterflies" turn out to be in the shapes of organs (not the musical kind) with words like "aroma," "conscience" and "succulent" letterpressed into their surface.
The artists' work harkens back to a time when folk and fairy tales (and children's stories in general) weren't quite as saccharine - or even sugar-coated, for that matter - as they are today. "Art historians, bibliophiles, printmakers and that ilk will definitely get a kick, but so will families who have an open mind to more macabre themes (since some of the work involves death but references kids' stories)," explained Kinney and Vincent.
Despite the instances of overlap in theme and medium, each artist's work stands on its own.
"My work is largely woodcut prints (the larger ones), [and] the smaller prints are intaglio etchings [author's note: "intaglio" refers to the method of printmaking in which the image is incised into a surface, those incisions then holding the ink for subsequent prints]. There is also an artist book that uses photopolymer plate (a digital relief technique), and wood engravings," said Kinney.
"My work in woodcut is mostly sculptural, but there is some printing as well. All of my paper is handmade and uses the material of paper as a concept," said Vincent.
Of their work collectively, the artists said "Lauren Kinney's sense of a story is more of a collage; Patrick Vincent's is more closely tied to totemism and animal fables. Both works reference the history of book plates and prints by expanding the scale."
"A Darkness," showcasing the intricacies of woodcarving and printmaking by artists Lauren Kinney and Patrick Vincent, will run through Nov. 10. The gallery is located on the third floor (Room 303) of the Madigan Library on the Penn College Campus, at 1 College Ave.
For more information, including contact information, gallery hours and upcoming exhibits, visit www.pct.edu/gallery or www.facebook.com/PCTgallery, or call 570-320-2445.