Beauty of small: TRU students augment Arnica print exchange show

How do you hang 143 prints in a space not much bigger than a doctor's waiting room?

Think small.

A world of miniatures encircles the little gallery at Arnica Artist Run Centre, small handmade paperback-sized prints representing the Cascade Print Exchange.

Print exchanges have become common among printmakers, enabling them to share their work, explore others' techniques and collect artwork from around the globe.

Organized by Oregon State University (OSU), this one invites artists and art students all over the world to submit 15 original prints. These are mixed together and 13 are sent back to each artist. One copy is archived while another forms part of a touring exhibition.

"In the print world we print in multiples, so it really lends itself well to an exchange," said Linda Jules, a member of the Kamloops Printmakers Society, while installing the show. It was no small task: the exhibition includes prints by 140 artists from six countries and 22 U.S. states.

"They're mini prints. They're like little objects, little gems."

Despite their scale, they lack nothing in detail and variety while presenting a study in the various techniques of printmaking - etching (or intaglio), relief, lithograph and serigraph.

Jules first encountered the print work of OSU instructor Yuji Hiratsuka while attending a conference in Richmond, Va., a couple of years ago. Hiratsuka, who oversees the Cascade Print Exchange, visited Kamloops a couple of years ago to give a workshop.

In an old vault that adjoins Arnica's gallery at the Old Courthouse, TRU print students have their own work on show in Seeing Doubles. Part of Arnica's mandate is to support emerging artists.

"For me, as curator, it's really exciting to see students included at Arnica," said Stephanie Patsula, a visual arts student. "We're so fortunate in Kamloops to have an artist-run centre that allows us to share space."

The student show similarly showcases technique. Pam Widmer, for example, produced a lino cut, a diptych representing change.

"It's about moving on from things holding you back and feeling happy about it," she said. "Some of it's about feminism - how women may look fragile but are often resilient.

Rachel Ross, another student, employs two techniques, sugar lift and hard ground, to achieve a textural look to her Madonna With A Long Neck.

The joint exhibition opens tonight with a reception from 6-8 p.m. and the show continues until April 7.

Patsula, meanwhile, sees an opportunity for mutual support. She's organizing a TRU student fundraiser for Arnica at The Art We Are for Friday, March 23, 6-10 p.m.

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