February 2016: Etched into Memory

View Of a City Elizabeth Peak doesn’t shrink from the challenges of being an etching artist. “The physical process imposes limitations that one is invited to rail against.”

If you happened to see “View of a City”at the 2015 Raucous Auction–a stunning diptych of a small town’s margins with impossibly precise detail–you sensed there was a new talent in the VABC community.

“I was very literal in my early work, in grad school,” she recalls of her time at Yale. “I had to unlearn that.”

It’s hard to imagine the exquisite sense of line in that literal phase as a liability. But the realization of what not to include in the picture, what to leave un-uniform, or to sharpen into significance, were among her first breakthroughs.

Peak’s show arrives at Art on Ivy, the VABC’s gallery space, after a well-reviewed run in the Washington Printmakers Gallery.

On one wall, animals stand in the solitary spaces, as do lonely structures of the Midwest that Peak also arrests in memorable postures.

Across the room, the stunning colors that evoke lyrical landscapes in collage. “My new work is about making color more than descriptive but something that describes space as much as changes of scale or perspective can.”

Mark Jenkins of the Washington Post wrote of the D.C. exhibit: “Peak employs the tricolor print for small-town scenes, such as a view of Charleston, S.C., at what may be dawn or twilight. In mood, these unpopulated cityscapes are akin to the depictions of lonely prairie vignettes. Yet they were crafted with techniques that are, impressively, worlds apart.”

Peak is at home in her range. She’s also settling in as an instructor of some of VABC’s new offerings in printmaking, after a career in teaching art at all levels. “Students have taught me a lot over the years by just being themselves. I’ve had only a few go on to attempt careers in art. In the ’70s every University had printmaking programs largely in response to the ‘new’ prints of people like Warhol. Now the tide has turned… traditional printmaking is disappearing and becoming digital.”

Peak’s process is delightfully mechanical, and the results of these traditional methods still call to the imagination and closer to our cave-selves than our cubicle-selves. And Peak’s maker-cave at Art on Ivy boasts a press fly wheel whose slow and strenuous revolutions add drama to each pulled print.

We hope you’ll join us on Friday, February 12 from 5-7PM for a “Further Friday” reception at Art on Ivy. The show will be up all of February–Groundhog Day to Leap Day. And this month, five participants in her Monotype to Etching workshop are enjoying the results of her guidance. If you’d like to hear about Peak’s next class, contact to join the list.


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