Amanda Lilleston & Lisa Matthias
7/16/2021 – 8/31/2021
Spudnik Press Cooperative
WaterBodies | Artist Talk & Virtual Reception
Tuesday July 20
7:00 p.m. CST
Visiting the Exhibition:
Visitors can make an appointment by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the date and time you would like to visit, and number of people in your party. We are typically able to accommodate visits between 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Monday – Saturday and occasional weeknights.
WaterBodies features immersive relief prints by Amanda Lilleston and Lisa Matthias.
Amanda Lilleston explores interconnected systems of biology and physiology. In her work, human beings are integrated into the larger ecosystem. Translucent prints depicting tissues, organs, and anatomical structures are layered with botanical and zoological forms. The membranous quality of the paper allows tendons, arteries, and tissues to connect and create new pathways unhindered by physiological limitations. Blood, bones, and the botanical are suspended in water and susceptible to its density, nourishment, and perpetual movement. Organic forms shift and adapt together. They shape and are shaped by their environment.
Lisa Matthias’ artwork builds on this worldview where nature is not a separate entity but is a web. Her prints featured in WaterBodies stem from a collaboration with a colleague and scientist studying algae, aquatic ecology, and a microscopic group of algae called diatoms. Diatoms are intricately patterned single-celled organisms responsible for producing a large proportion of Earth’s oxygen. Her large scale prints embrace ambiguity. They are abstract and referential, expressive and structured, graphic and sculptural. They are simultaneously architectural and biological and could reference man-made constructions, microscopic worlds, or they could be otherworldly.
By bringing together prints by these two artists, WaterBodies invites viewers to consider the relationships within and between humans and the natural world. With a focus on biological forms, these larger-than-life prints embrace a sense of wonder and appreciation for anatomy and ecology. They urge us to seek out unity and harmony with the biological environment that we are unmistakably a part of.
About the Artists
Our bodies are open systems. We are merely a pocket of the landscape we currently inhabit. I explore interconnected systems of biology and physiology where I visualize environmental pressures, toxins, and stressors impacting the ecosystem in equal force as it impacts human biology. I integrate human beings into the larger ecosystem by collaging prints of organs, tissues, and other human anatomy into botanical or zoological forms. My work as an artist explores the mutuality between the world and the bodies it continually shapes.
I explore these concepts using printmaking as my tool. I develop print collages from woodcut matrices of carved human anatomical structures as well as botanical, invertebrate, and other vertebrate morphology. I draw and carve imagery into birch plywood and print on both Sekishu and Gampi paper. After printing, I cut the paper and rebuild the Sekishu woodcuts, overlapping and reconnecting, layering imagery. I pound layers of fiber together using a stiff brush and wheat paste. In this process, tendons, arteries, and tissues are connected to create new pathways and structures. I layer this imagery through hanging Gampi woodcut prints—allowing the membranous quality of the paper to create depth and space in this suspended environment. The organic imagery is unhindered by physiological or morphological limitations. These anatomies depict organic forms shifting and adapting together, weathered and shaped by forces in the environment. The series of work I have represented is inspired by organic material floating in water−susceptible to current, density, growth, and movement—trying to reestablish physical or chemical relationships to greater cycles and systems at play. In the end, what are we really? Blood and bones chemically interconnected to each other and every organism on this planet. I find comfort in this shared experience of physicality. We are each bodies: We hurt, heal, adapt, and endure the challenges and triumphs of being alive on earth.
Amanda Lilleston is a visual artist living in Maine. Her work depicts a long and evolving relationship with human anatomy, physiology and ecology. Using drawing, carving, and printing, Lilleston transforms imagery of the body into adapting forms and structures. She received her MFA from University of Michigan and a BA in biology from Colorado College in Colorado Springs, CO. She has exhibited her work at the International Triennial Colour in Graphic Arts in Torún, Poland; Boston Printmakers North American Print Biennial; The Atlanta Print Biennial; Annual National Print Exhibitions at Artlink Contemporary Gallery in Fort Wayne, Indiana; The Detroit Artist Market; The Alden B. Dow Museum in Midland, Michigan; The Printmaking Center of New Jersey; Portal Gallery in Atlanta, Georgia; and the Ice Box Gallery in Philadelphia. She currently resides in Maine, and teaches printmaking at Colby College.
There is the idea that humans have an innate tendency to show interest in other forms of life; we may be predisposed to focus on living things as opposed to the inanimate . Add to this supposition the evidence that all organisms have descended from the same ancestral life form: after 3.5 billion years of evolution all life remains interconnected at a genetic level. It’s clear that associations among species, between humans and other living beings, are complex and old. This kind of systems-based worldview where nature is not a separate entity but is instead a web of interactions among living things and their environments is articulated through ecology.
Most living things are minute compared to us, and Lisa often captures microscopic imagery in the development of her artwork. She habitually looks for repetition and pattern in form. The existence of mimicry in structures and behaviours that are reiterated across species and at different scales of life is an expression of forces of natural selection at work over millions of years . Her work is frequently motivated by chance encounters with plants, animals, and patterns.
This new developing body of large-format woodcut prints stems from a collaboration Lisa has undertaken with a scientist colleague who studies algae and aquatic ecology. In particular, these works focus on a microscopic group of algae called diatoms. Lisa was first introduced to these singled-celled organisms in a high school biology class, and went on to study them in a university course, and then further in her first job as a biologist. Diatoms are covered in intricately patterned glass cell walls, called frustules. They’re responsible for producing a large proportion of Earth’s oxygen. They’re incredibly diverse with thousands of different species.
These prints exhibit multiple ambiguities; they are abstract and referential, expressive and structured, graphic and sculptural, and biomorphic and technological. Like any organism the figurative component of each composition is to some degree interwoven with its environment. The large scale immerses viewers in images of perplexing architectural and biological configurations and perspectives. The images might seem like a magnified look at a microscopic world, they could reference some larger man-made constructions, or they could be otherworldly.
Lisa Matthias is an artist and printmaker living near Edmonton, Alberta. She completed her Master of Fine Arts in printmaking at the University of Alberta, and prior to that carried out a Master of Science in plant ecology from the University of Manitoba, and a Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of Guelph. After working as a professional ecologist for over a decade she became a full-time artist. Her environmentalism has driven each of her career paths. Her artwork frequently draws from her experiences as an ecologist, and she often captures microscopic images, and field sound recordings, in her creative practice. The idea that everything is part of a larger assemblage, emphasized by the recognition of patterns and relatedness across species and scales of life is a central theme in her work.