Dancing in the light

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abstracts by Carmi Weingrod
At Shift Gallery through July 30

By Cynthia Hibbard

In a time-honored artist’s tradition, printmaker Carmi Weingrod’s show abstracts sprung from initial failed attempts.

Working with stencils and her beloved birch veneer plywood plates, which have passed through her press literally hundreds of times, Weingrod found she was just not satisfied with her results.

In a moment of inspiration, she laid out some of her favorite stencils on her glass inking table, which is positioned beneath a window in her studio.  She photographed the assemblages from different perspectives, picking up shadows and light reflections in the glass.  Then she cut stencils from the complex new shapes she’d created and her printmaking took off.

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“I guess the work is based on stencils created from photographs of stencils.  I just rolled with it,” she said. “The photographs continued the way I’d been working.  They continue my interest the way shapes change in the light—and in this case—got distorted.”

The result is a series of rich, yet delicately fluttering and combining abstract shapes on full-size hanging sheets of Japanese Mulberry paper bearing a distinctively mixed “dusk” color and its pinkish ghost on Weingrod’s favorite dark hue, graphite etching ink.

In applying her stencils, Weingrod uses both the negative and positive shapes, which she describes and the “innies” and the “outies.”

“I think what I’m going to do now is photograph this new set of stencils on the inking table and take it further,” she said. “I’ll be making monoprints based on stencils from photographs of stencils from photographs of stencils,” she said with a laugh.  “So it gets a little abstract at that point.”

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The abstractions of abstractions are totally up her alley.  “The shapes become entwined with the light and the reflections and I love that,” she said.  “I love what happens with shapes when light and reflection distorts them.”

In her signature way of printing on wood by laying her plates in varying directions, Weingrod’s prints feature a constant variety of her veneer’s distinctive wood grain patterns.  She’ll likely continue with the 2 x 3-foot Mulberry sheets that are more than half her own height and strain the limits of her press because her current vision is to go bigger.  One change ahead might be the addition of more color.

Weingrod see her process of abstracting from abstractions as akin to a rumor that has some basis in truth—her original stencils.

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“A rumor typically has some kernel of truth and then it gets carried away as it gets passed from person to person,” she said.  “That’s how I see what I’m doing here.”