La. printmakers featured in Caffery exhibit

Imagine a world where furniture levitates for no reason at all.

There are no supernatural forces at work here, just Bill Kitchens’ imagination. And in his world of prints, furniture floats a few inches above the floor. Three of his prints are part of Caffery Gallery’s “Printmaking Invitational” exhibit.

The show runs through Saturday and features work by 10 Louisiana artists who teach printmaking at universities throughout the state. The artists’ diverse styles offer a wide variety of techniques.

And among them is a chair in Kitchens’ lifelike yet surreal siligraph.

Kitchens teaches printmaking at Loyola University in New Orleans, and to understand his siligraphy process, one must first define printmaking, which is the art of transferring a drawn, etched, incised or printed work from one surface to another.

The artist creates the image on the surface from which it will be transferred most times to paper or fabric.

Printmaking is an indirect art technique as opposed to drawing or painting. Often, the number of prints are limited to an edition, which are numbered and signed.

There also are different ways of creating this art form, and Kitchens’ “High Chair” is among them.

Siligraphy is a form of vitreography, which uses a glass plate to hold the image to be transferred to paper. In siligraphy, the artist draws the image with water-soluable materials on a ground glass matrix.

Those are just the basics of this process, which also can incorporate digital images. The result in Kitchens’ case is that everyday furniture simply hovers in his siligraphs and his lithographs.

It’s enough to keep viewers entranced, perhaps because they perfectly complement Ross Jahnke’s neighboring intaglio, “Forever Fresh,” an homage to Hostess Cupcakes.

Jahnke is a professor of art at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux.

Along with Kitchens, Jahnke is joined in this show by fellow professors Teresa Color, of Tulane University in New Orleans; Addie Dawson-Euba, of Southern University; Clyde Downs, of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches; Brian Kelly, of the University of Louisiana in Lafayette; Leslie Koptcho, of LSU; Ernest Milsted, of Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, and Larry Schuh and Gerry Wubben, both of McNeese State University in Lake Charles.

“This exhibit represents an exploration of recent work from these artists focusing on many unique images that are traditional, as well as unconventional approaches to the process of making prints,” says curator Ann Marie Russo. “Their work displays a variety of techniques and artistry developed through their years of education and professional experience.”

But the prints are the true stars of this show.

Take Downs’ lithograph, “That Dark Day.” Its impressionistic style seems to reflect scenes from the Kisatchie National Forest’s Kisatchie Ranger District in Natchitoches, while Milsted’s screenprint, “Gone, Baby, Gone” offers a collection of layered images.

Meanwhile, Koptcho’s abstract, “Current S(k)in,” created through the softground etching, aquatint and digital chine colle processes, will intrigue. And Jahnke’s cupcakes will leave your mouth watering.

Finally, there’s the lithograph “Dangerous Couch,” where a sofa levitates through the power of Kitchens’ imagination.