In Karen Klee-Atlin’s show Granite Spit, process and subject intertwine to create a powerful body of work. Her subject is a familiar ridge of weathered granite in an Ontario Lake. The process she uses is reductive linocut. In these prints we see every cut and every layer of ink. We witness the slow process of printmaking as well as internalizing a similar process in regards to the generation and degeneration of land forms. Writing about this work she states the stone, smoothed and exposed by glaciers and encrusted with lichen and scrub, provides a subject that is well suited to the slow work of carving and the accretion of inky layers.
The large scale and complex use of color makes these prints particularly impressive as well as displaying process to its very fullest extent. Klee-Atlin remarked that while creating these prints her days were divided between cutting and printing. Cutting on a linoleum plate creates a mark and, in these prints, we see a universe of mark making. Small marks of similar size and subtly different shape run edge to edge, this denseness of marks creates a field alive with subtle vibration- the overall effect is exciting yet somehow meditative. Printing this work involved using identical plates for each piece but inking them differently. Colors change dramatically between the pieces. Darker realistic colors shift to lighter colors and unusual combinations. As the realistic image becomes less distinct, we notice surprising color choices, new shapes and odd illusions of depth and surface. Layers of ink build up a textural surface that has optical as well a physical depth. Each incarnation of the image gives us a new glimpse of the same subject. This cutting and printing, the exposure and covering, highlight different aspect of the image and conjures up suggestions ranging from geology to astrology.
In this exhibition Klee-Atlin demonstrates enormous ambition and technical finesse but more importantly she gives us the quiet and solid grandeur of her Granite Spit.