Postcards From Paradise: A New Perspective In Printmaking
August 26th, 2008
Westmont’s Reynolds Gallery opens the academic year with “Language Skills: The Art of the Expanded Print,” new work by Martha Ensign Johnson, on display September 4 through October 25. An opening reception Thursday, September 4, 4-6 p.m. is free and open to the public.
An internationally know printmaker, Ensign Johnson is also a new faculty member in the Westmont art department. Trained in the southeastern United States and in Italy, she has been a printmaker for 35 years and exhibited work across the United States and abroad. She came to Santa Barbara three years ago when her husband, Don Johnson, became pastor of Montecito Covenant Church.
The work in “Language Skills” explores cultural ideas of paradise by weaving together images of industry, nature and pop culture in multi-layered compositions. Ensign Johnson uses etching and woodcutting techniques to print on papers that are connected in what she calls “expanded prints.” Regarding her process of sewing or hinging prints together, she says, “It is a practical solution for a conceptual problem.” Reconciling disparate ideas and images is a prevalent theme in her work.
When she moved to Santa Barbara she was struck by how often the area is called “paradise,” and determined to examine that idea further. “There is a French saying, ‘For every postcard of paradise there is a backside.’ That inspired the postcard-sized etching plates used in this series.” Ideas of structure and chaos began to emerge in her research, with images of cranes, trestles and other means of controlling our surroundings. “The process and the ideas are very connected; there is always a
tension between structure and chaos in printing.”
The gallery is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays. For directions to campus, visit the college Web site at www.westmont.edu. For more information, contact (805) 565-7140 or firstname.lastname@example.org.