Body Language was created during my nine-month residency at Highpoint Center For Printmaking when I and two other artists, Karmel Sabri and Benjamin Merritt, were selected as 2019 – 2020 Jerome Emerging Printmakers. For nine months we were granted free access to Highpoint’s facilities, a stipend, technical support from their staff, as well as four critiques throughout to assess and help us with our progress. The residency ended with an exhibition of our work in their Main Gallery.
The residency was going very well for me until March, when coronavirus began to take hold in the US. Highpoint was forced to close its doors and when it reopened three months later, we were able to resume our work. The coronavirus pandemic affected everything in our lives and it was a real struggle to continue where I had left off. Ultimately I was able to meet certain goals I had for this residency and body of work, such as working with photolithography and continuing to develop my technique with toner wash, but there were goals left unattained, such as working up to a life-sized figure.
Tower – Photolithograph on gampi tissue, 24″ x 36″, 2020 – © grace sippy 2020
Detail from Tower – © grace sippy 2020
Brute – Photolithograph on gampi tissue, 27″ x 22″, 2020 – © grace sippy 2020
Detail from Brute – © grace sippy 2020
For many years my creative interests have stemmed from psychoanalysis, unspoken
languages, the figure, and psychological spaces. I use the human figure to explore what cannot
be said in words, or what I do not wish to say through words, and regularly visit themes of
disintegration, doubles, primal power, the Grotesque, vulnerability, and conflict.
Mind and Body – Photolithograph and screenprint on gampi tissue, 29″ x 19.25″, 2020 – © grace sippy 2020
Searching – Screenprint on gampi tissue, 38″ x 24″, 2020 – © grace sippy 2020
Details from Searching – © grace sippy 2020
My creative methodology typically begins with photography, using myself or my husband as a model. For this body of work the photo sessions were an intuitive process, focusing on movement and performance. Some images stood alone but most were then cut and collaged as printouts or manipulated as digital collages, to then work from to create simplified sketches. These combinations of images became creatures such as Brute and Mind and Body. Other images were combined because they would be impossible to photograph in one shot, such as Tower and Tower II. From these abridged sketches, drawings on clear film were created, using a solution that contains toner from laser printers. My final visualization was for these toner drawings to become photolithographs and screenprints. Both photolithography and screenprinting are techniques that require a “positive” image, in order for that image to be exposed to the UV sensitive surfaces of the photolithographic plate and the silkscreen. The opaque toner on transparent film makes the drawings ideal for these processes. I chose to print on lightweight, translucent paper (gampi tissue), to add to their aura of fragility, but to also prompt them to move with and respond to air movements in the gallery space.
Tower II – Photolithograph on gampi tissue, 24″ x 48″, 2020 – © grace sippy 2020
Tear – Photolithograph on gampi tissue, 27.5″ x 48″, 2020 – © grace sippy 2020
The Fight – Photolithograph on gampi tissue, 18″ x 13″, 2020
I also decided to exhibit some toner drawings on film. Instead of translating them into photolithographs and/or screenprints, they stand alone as drawings (for the time being). I really wanted to play around with color toner (Cyan, Yellow, and Magenta), and experiment with layering them in different combinations. Though I was working on transparent film, they began to yellow once layered together. I also enjoyed including shadow as part of the work–Butterfly II (black toner drawing on film)–added layers of light and shadow to the already layered films.
Installation view of Butterfly I, II, and III – © grace sippy 2020
Butterfly I – toner drawings on film, 8.5″ x 11″, 2020 – © grace sippy 2020
Butterfly II – toner drawings on film, 8″ x 10.5″, 2020 – © grace sippy 2020
Butterfly III – toner drawings on film, 8.5″ x 11″, 2020 – © grace sippy 2020
Installation view and detail of untitled – toner drawings on film, 23″ x 11.5″, 2020 – © grace sippy
Upon installation the work evoked its own presence. Stimulated by air movement, they floated and settled, floated and settled, creating their own language through sound and movement. Coming away from the wall added to their visual mass, supplemented by the multiple shadows they cast.
Through the work I hope to convey fragile and vulnerable moments, but also the Primordial Self, a source of power and strength. With this archaic self in mind, I also followed themes of anticipation, fear and transformative power. Being surrounded by the work, it is my hope that viewers are able to cast themselves into the sparse spaces occupied by the figures, and to make instinctual affiliations of their own.