Ben Bailey Art Gallery’s latest exhibit holds the dynamic printmaking work by Ryan O’Malley, assistant art professor from Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi.
The exhibit, titled Power In Numbers, is on view from Oct. 8 – Nov. 22. The artist reception was held on Oct. 15, and O’Malley was present to welcome guests and discuss the process behind his pieces.
Abel: How is it did Power In Numbers come to be and what kind of pieces have you brought to display?
O’Malley: This is part of an ongoing series called The Process of Getting to Know You, which is a double entendre dealing with the process of printmaking itself or the process of discovery in addition to the fact that I do variations on the theme of portraiture. This (exhibit) specifically is titled Power In Numbers, which is also sort of a double entendre in the sense that it speaks on the act of the multiple, which is what print making is built on the foundation of having multiples of something, but in addition to that most of the people depicted here through all these various fashions are family and friends who provide me with strength and support.
A: Where do you draw your concepts from?
O: The foundation, like the genesis point of all this work, is traditional spray paint stencils that I’ve made of people. I’ve cut probably 150 stencil portraits of people that started when I was in grad school and sort of continued on as kind of a side project. Then I cut so many stencils at one point I’m like ‘what should I do with these’.
It was a process of spending time studying the shapes that make up someone’s face, that make up their personality, reducing them with paper and blade to their most basic shapes.
A: What process do you use for your printmaking pieces?
O: I’m using computer files, and developing them in Photoshop and then converting them into Illustrator, turning them into vector files. I have also used these or cut these wood cuts, using the basic sketch that I’ve made to use for multiple types of imagery so these reduction points over here are taking that same totemic form that I’ve created based off some of these stencils and them expanded them into different processes. I’m seeing how far I can take the basic stencil process and how far I can explore other printmaking processes with a very simple foundation.
A: What kind of reception do you want appreciators to leave Power In Numbers with?
O: Of course, a sense of awe. Really, as an educator, I want people to see how expansive the realm of printmaking can be, and that’s why using something as basic as stencils as a starting point can show you how far an idea can carry and how many different directions it can deviate.
It’s really just about the expansive realm of imagination while using a very simple foundation.