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A Conversation Across Time: Responding to the Work of Kestutis Kizevicius
January 19, 2021 @ 9:00 am - February 20, 2021 @ 5:00 pm
Exhibition Location: Cleveland Institute of Art, Ann and Norman Roulet Student + Alumni Gallery, 11610 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44106
Please Note: At this time, the exhibition is not open to the public, as building safety measures restrict access to the gallery to CIA students, staff and faculty only. For additional gallery information, please contact Nikki Woods, Gallery Director of the Cleveland Institute of Art, email@example.com.
The Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) Printmaking Department, in conjunction with the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve (AAWR), are pleased to present A Conversation Across Time: Responding to the Work of Kestutis Kizevicius.
Last year Covid disrupted almost every aspect of academic life, including how the Institute’s Advanced Topics Printmaking course completed their collaborative portfolio assignment. In previous semesters, students would invite local artists to physically visit the campus and guide them through the printmaking process. Normally, these prints would be gathered and exchanged in a portfolio along with the student’s original work. Of course, with the pandemic in full swing, things have been anything but normal. To maintain the safety of their community, visitors to the campus were strictly limited. A new strategy was needed, which came in the form of a creative partnership with the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve.
The Archives, located only blocks away from the Institute, offered up original printing plates from their own collection for the student’s use. Conceived by Associate Professor and Printmaking Department Chair Maggie Denk-Leigh, and Collections’ Registrar Kelly Pontoni, the project included students reprinting images from plates created by Archived Artist & CIA Alum, Kestutis Kizevicius, known fondly as “Kesty” to his friends.
Pontoni, who had spent the Summer cataloging and re-organizing Kesty’s work, describes “In review, I found that many of his prints were damaged for different reasons, among them poor paper choices for oil-based inks, improper storage, and time…there were plates but no prints, as well as plates for some of the severely damaged prints. After researching some options with AAWR Executive Director Mindy Tousley, we built a collaborative project…” The opportunity allowed the students to recondition the plates from storage, print a small edition to be included in the AAWR collection, and pull a second edition for the class exchange portfolio. Each participant received a full portfolio, and two archived sets will remain in the collection of CIA and AAWR. A video of Denk-Leigh demonstrating intaglio printing from Kesty’s plates was even included in the Cleveland Museum of Art Print Club’s Virtual Fine Print Fair in October.
Though some of the plates were almost a half century old, students found varied and meaningful connections with the work, and even the artist himself. Drawing major Nicholas Birnie selected Crash Test Dummy with Sweater, a printing matrix featuring a blank-faced figure with upheld hands and a camera slung around his neck. “I see this piece functioning as a timely piece to now,” says Birnie. “I’m thinking a lot about media censorship, the use of the camera, and the way that the crash test dummy is pressed up against the front of the paper reminiscent of reporters being attacked during the protest. His work continues to stay timely.”
“As a printmaker myself,” shares Pontoni, “a memorable part of the project was being present with the students while they printed. I listened to the students having conversations with the artist, as if he was with us in the studio- thanking him and expressing delight they were allowed to print this work, even asking questions and divining answers. I believe that Kestutis Kizevicius’ spirit was with us that day.”
The exhibition, which features the complete portfolio, the original loaned plates, and the students’ pulled prints, is currently on display in the Ann and Norman Roulet Student + Alumni Gallery at the Cleveland Institute of Art. At this time, the exhibition is not open to the public, as building safety measures restrict access to the gallery to CIA students, staff and faculty only. For additional gallery information, please contact Nikki Woods, Gallery Director of the Cleveland Institute of Art, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Participants of the Portfolio:
Kestutis Kizevicius (Kesty) ’75
Maeve Billings ’21
Nick Birnie ’21
Maggie Denk-Leigh, CIA Print Department Chair
Connor Goodwin ’20
Tatiana Hornung ’21
Mike Lombardy ’15
Kelly Pontoni ’19
Stevie Tanner, CIA Print Department Technical Specialist
*This release was written collectively, by the staff Artists Archives of the Western Reserve and staff of the Cleveland Institute of Art.