The Chazan Gallery is pleased to present Scratching the Surface – Rhode Island College Printmaking, a group exhibition with works by Yizhak Elyashiv, Stephen Fisher, John Rapczak and Crandon Whitsitt-Lynch, from January 21 to February 10, 2016.  An opening reception for the artists will be held on January 21, from 5:00-7:00. The public is invited.

Yizhak Elyashiv,Untitled, 2015

Yizhak Elyashiv couples an expert command of his medium with stunning innovation in scope and execution: a single piece might feature as many as sixty individual intaglio prints.  To further elaborate the artworks, Elyashiv developed a rigorous practice incorporating the arrangement of overlaid and often overpainted monoprints. In their final form, a monoprint ‘map’ can measure as large as six by ten feet.
 The procedural complication of oversized, composite prints cannot be overstated. The discrete plates/prints must cohere in tone, composition, and exact formal arrangement within a precisely articulated grand scheme. Fine lines have to follow meticulous trajectories over many plates, and shading must maintain tonal consistency throughout.  A proof alone requires weeks of work.
Elyashiv has the capacity to sustain a visually dynamic relationship between the detailed minutiae and the overarching complexity of the whole.  From his process’s particularity, to the beautifully constructed, expansive visual vernacular suggesting entire language systems, his art is both architectural and organic. His new maps work around the subject of Water and Flow, connecting vistas of inviting abstraction, fields of dark yellow punctuated with mechanical drafting dots of white marks that envelop the viewer’s fields of vision. This totality of vision and its painstaking plotting becomes a way to capture and freeze in a moment the flowing movement of water.
Born in Jerusalem, Yizhak Elyashiv received a BFA from the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in 1990 before coming to RISD and earning his MFA in Jewelry + Metalsmithing in 1992. He began teaching art at Rhode Island College in 1995 and has been a member of RISD’s faculty since 2001. Elyashiv’s prints and drawings have been exhibited and collected by the Israel Museum, British Museum, Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University, Yale University Art Gallery, RISD Museum, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Cleveland Museum of Art, among others. He has earned numerous grants and fellowships, including a MacColl Johnson Fellowship from the Rhode Island Foundation in 2007, a Howard Foundation fellowship for visual arts (Brown University) in 2007 and a drawing and printmaking fellowship from the RI State Council on the Arts in 2011. Elyashiv shows his work at Gallery NAGA in Boston, Reeves Contemporary in NYC, the Spheris Gallery, NH and the Barbara Davis Gallery in Houston. His prints have been published by the Tamarind Institute, Island Press, Washington University at St. Louis and Wildwood Press.

Stephen Fisher, Dioskouroi, 2008

For some years Stephen Fisher’s visual explorations have primarily focused on two major imagery genres (still life and landscape) in two technical modes (drawing and printmaking).  Common to all the work is his obsession with intense perceptual rigor, compositional manipulation, the viscosity of light, and the tactile, sensual nature of materials.
 Early on, Fisher decided that the arena of observation and representation are of primary interest to him. The problem has always been to find a way to transcend or extend the realism or literality of the depicted objects through the vehicle of essentially accurate representation. He has tried to bring his stubbornness and patience to bear and delve deep into the innate complexities and paradoxes of perception and illusion. “Look harder, see more” has become his personal mantra.
Light is the tie that binds and the force that fractures.  Light defines and coalesces the tangible world of objects and spaces.  Therefore it is rigorous perceptual attention to nuances of value created by the action of that light that provides the key to illusion in Fisher’s drawings and prints.  Yet the same light also undermines the illusion by burning away the supposedly solid edges of objects, flattening spaces by asserting its own tangibility.  Information gathered from intense observation reveals this simultaneous definition and dissolution of the world.  Additional layers of illusion flicker in the world of reflections.  Like a dream within a dream, the situation is concrete and familiar yet transitory and unsettled.  

While still life situations are self-consciously controlled, landscape presents an endless supply of unpredictable combinations of visual elements.  Extracting a thread of structural order (however tentative) from the chaos of the natural world is the engaging challenge in this genre.  While a particular place with its individual character of space and quality of light provides the basic template for Fisher’s landscape images, information is necessarily edited, manipulated, and occasionally invented for abstract structural purposes. These images are therefore a synthesis of perception and improvisation.

Yet on the most basic level these images are just so much dirt on paper.  The tactile presence of material compulsively manipulated is perhaps the only real part of this realism.

Stephen Fisher earned a B.F.A. in painting and printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University (1976) and an M.F.A. in printmaking from Yale University (1981).  He currently teaches at Rhode Island College in Providence as a Professor of Art where he specializes in printmaking and drawing, and aspires to the title of “Chief Printmaking Wizard”.  Fisher’s work has been exhibited in a variety of national and, occasionally, international venues and earned numerous awards in a wide range of competitions. His drawings and prints can be found in numerous public, corporate and private collections. Public recognition of Fisher’s efforts include a regional N.E.A. Fellowship, 3 Rhode Island State Council on the Arts Fellowships and a Graphic Media Achievement Award from American Artist Magazine.

John Rapczak, Francis, 2014

John Rapczak’s work is structured within and pushes against traditional etching techniques and processes. It explores the mark making language and tactility of intaglio printmaking in an attempt to convey the illusion of life in paper and ink. The body of work presented references the tradition of memento mori imagery, and is a reflection on memory, the persistence of the past on the present, and the small topic of life and death.
John Rapczak earned a MFA in printmaking from Rhode Island School of Design and a BFA in printmaking from Rhode Island College. He has been a member of the adjunct faculty at the Community College of Rhode Island, Salve Regina University, and Rhode Island College where he currently teaches courses in drawing, two-dimensional design, and stand-up comedy.

 Crandon Whitsitt-Lynch work explores the balance between creating from a stream-of-consciousness approach, while maintaining strong formal design concepts.  Whitsitt-Lynch is fascinated with applying his obsessive-compulsive tendencies to his prints in the form of complex pattern combinations, attention to detail and layering.

Crandon Whitsitt-Lynch,Untitled, 2015

He lives by the philosophy that nothing succeeds like excess.

Overall Whitsitt-Lynch finds the process of pushing the medium of Intaglio, and treating each plate as a constantly in-flux and evolving piece of work far more intriguing than the so-called “finished product”
 After graduating from East Providence high school in 2005, Whitsitt-Lynch attended Rhode Island College, where he focused mainly on printmaking and metal sculpture, eventually settling on printmaking as a major. After graduating with a BFA in printmaking in 2011 Whitsitt-Lynch continued to produce work at Rhode Island College for several years. In 2014 he was hired by Rhode Island College to be building technician for the Alex and Ani Art Center, where he is currently employed.