The Compound Gallery’s second annual group show, “The Art of Letterpress II,” highlights and revives the all but lost art of letterpress, and explores how contemporary artists and audiences now engage with the historic medium. Expanding upon the debut show last year both geographically and by approach, “Art of Letterpress II” illustrates not only the high degree of technical skill required for hand-set type, but also by exhibiting less traditional methods of using the letterpress it examines how contemporary artists have implemented its traditions and history to elevate or illustrate letterpress’ fine art qualities, which changes the way audiences may have heretofore looked at this method of printmaking.
In a world that has become increasingly digital, proliferated with new technologies that allow the public to communicate quickly via text, email, and print, it is at times, says Compound Gallery “easy to forget how labor intensive it was to simply make a sentence and reproduce it multiple times.” The exhibition strives to educate about how intensively laborious it was to execute what audiences may now do easily, while also raising awareness and appreciation for this medium and its artistic qualities. In addition to a display of various letterpress prints, the exhibition includes a small letterpress and the materials, ephemera, and equipment, which strives to make real the multifarious tasks, duties, and choices available to the technician/artisan in order to accomplish such artworks on view. Compound Gallery expands the group show this year to include an emphasis on letterpress’ important relationship with typography, and how the shift from the “characteristic texture, ink, and surface of letter-pressed text” to digital typography has altered our visual and physical relationship to the written word. In this way, this year’s exhibition also features the work of artists who print using a variety of surfaces (lead/wood type, magnesium, photo-polymer) using a letterpress.
Compound Gallery has also expanded its outreach and engagement with audiences during the exhibition. During the opening reception, the gallery printed on a Vandercook proof press and distributed free prints to visitors. During the course of the exhibition, letterpress workshops taught by artist Rebeccca Peters will also be offered. They have also created Letterpress Parade, a Tumblr that invites artists from around the globe to submit images of their letterpress artwork to be featured on the website. There will be a free film screening of the new documentary Linotype on Friday, November 22. The exhibition will close with an afternoon tea and artist talk on December 15.
The Art of Letterpress II will be at Compound Gallery, 1167 65th st., through December 15