By Monica Parpal Stockbridge
Even for sisters, Mandi and Molly Quinn have a lot in common. But their shared passion for art – and printmaking in particular – makes for a unique sibling relationship.
“I was drawing before I could walk,” Mandi, 26, said. “And I’m sure it was the same for Molly because we were just constantly together.”
“We’re honestly the only two people in our family that are artists,” Molly, 22, added. “We always have kind of influenced each other growing up.”
Mandi and Molly are two of more than 20 Denver artists who will be showing their work at “In Process,” a three-week printmaking exhibition opening Friday at the Center for Visual Art. Other artists showing their work include MSU Denver Assistant Professor Jade Hoyer and affiliate faculty member Javier Flores.
Printmaking involves transferring an image onto paper using another source – a carved wood block, a copper plate, a delicately etched limestone – and, often, some type of press. Unlike a traditional exhibition, “In Process” will transform the gallery into a studio space, featuring process proofs, notes, sketches and other materials to provide a visual story of the printmaking processes. The CVA will also host workshops, demonstrations and tours open to the public.
The Quinn sisters discovered the art form at Metropolitan State University of Denver; Mandi earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in printmaking in 2017 while Molly expects to graduate with her Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting, printmaking and ceramics this spring and works as a CVA gallery assistant and a co-curator of its 965 Project.
“Without (MSU Denver), I wouldn’t be doing printmaking,” said Mandi, who prints at Denver’s Art Gym, a creative community workspace. “I personally love it because it's like a whole bunch of different mediums within one medium.”
During “In Process,” artists will show different proofs and artist’s tools rather than final artworks. Visitors will see what goes into making a print and will get to experiment with printmaking themselves during guided workshops in the CVA’s classroom space.
Cecily Cullen, CVA director and curator, especially enjoys this aspect of community involvement.
“One thing I love doing with our exhibitions and programming is to provide an opportunity for dialogue and inspire people in their own creativity, and then give them an opportunity to put that creativity in play right away,” she said.
The exhibition also aligns with Mo’Print, or Month of Printmaking, an every-other-year celebration of the art of printmaking in Denver. “We wanted to contribute and participate in the Mo’Print celebration,” Cullen said. “I thought, what a great way to use our space as kind of a working space and have lots of workshops centered (on) the idea of printmaking.”
Both Quinn sisters expressed excitement at participating in such an educational exhibition.
“Typically, we just see the final proof and we don’t really realize what all goes into (printmaking),” Molly said. “That’s why we’re making a show about the process and things that people don’t really realize when people look at a print. They think it’s like a drawing or a painting or a sketch or something. It’s actually so much more. (It’s a) completely different labor compared to traditional methods.”
“In Process” will run Friday through March 21, with an opening reception kicking off Denver Art District on Santa Fe’s First Friday from 6-8 p.m. The premiere coincides with the gallery’s reopening after a 3-month renovation to replace the existing restrooms with gender-neutral restrooms.
“We really wanted to be more welcoming to everyone in our community, and now we feel like everyone can come and feel like this is a place for them,” Cullen said, referring to the CVA’s 25,000 annual visitors. Starting Friday, guests will find two single-user restrooms as well as a multi-user restroom with floor-to-ceiling stalls. During the process, Cullen learned that the CVA has the first permitted all-gender restrooms in Denver. “The city was rewriting amendments based on our request,” she said.
It’s fitting that the CVA is making its physical space more accessible while creating opportunities to make art more approachable. Cullen said printmaking has “democratized fine art,” as prints from editions (or print runs) are more affordable than singular original pieces. Yet each printed piece is still a unique handmade artwork – and the mistakes and trials that go into creating it are all part of the process.
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