Passion for Printmaking

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It’s Wednesday morning in Lecture Center 100 and the sounds of wild coyotes reverberate throughout the large space occupied by an intimate gathering. A woman at the front of the room silences the chaos as the howling fades into the distance.

On April 20, printmaker Nancy Diessner came to SUNY New Paltz to discuss her art in correlation with the Visiting Artist Lecture Series run by the Student Art Alliance. Diessner owns Dog’s Eye Print Studio in Massachusetts and her fascination with the complex relationship between humans and animals inspires these creations. Including the printmaker’s lecture, eight artists in total participated in the spring series.

According to Visiting Artists Lecture Coordinator Lydia Martin, the organization’s interest in Diessner derived from printmaking student’s interest in her work. Martin said that at the conclusion of every spring semester the Student Art Alliance hosts a “Slide Slam.” Each art department nominates artists they wish to invite for the upcoming academic year. The voting commences and the coordinator begins contacting these highly sought after innovators.

“The Student Art Alliance and Visiting Artist Lecture Series is among the oldest and largest student run and funded organizations on campus,” Martin said.

Diessner’s conversation started with a few brief words of introduction and an expression of gratitude. The artist said that the small crowd warranted a show and tell of her pieces at the end. She played a cellphone clip of coyotes wailing outdoors in juxtaposition with her dogs barking to present her overarching theme of the wild versus the domestic. Then she provided the crowd with some history on her work.

In undergraduate and graduate school, she studied painting, but always created prints. During her late 20s and 30s she rekindled this passion. Diessner works in photo based prints. Her first exhibit revealed the initial rigid style of her craft. Yet, later on, blurry images lent themselves to more movement in Diessner’s wild wonders.

For her most recent series, “The Sky is Falling,” Diessner attached a camera to her back while walking in the woods to generate shaky landscape images. She contrasted the blurry wilderness with pictures of lifeless animals killed by a deceased game hunter. Diessner wanted to give the stuffed creatures a new environment to live in.

“I always felt I needed things to be rectilinear, but then I realized I’m kind of a baroque at heart,” Diessner said.

First-year biology major Jaclyn Seals attended the talk for her basic metal class. She found the lecture to be informative and thought provoking. Seals said that prior to hearing Diessner speak she knew very little about printmaking and afterwards she garnered a greater understanding of the process.

“I like what she said about how all extra things eventually fall away and you have to figure out who you are as an artist,” Seals said.