Arts preview: Culture and color commune in “Combinations” exhibit

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From the June 27, 2013 edition

Queen Brooks has earned many accolades and recognition for her colorful wood burning and mixed media works (in fact, the International Review of African American Art has featured her art twice), but she’s not one to turn down a new artistic challenge.

When her longtime friend Nicholas Hill casually suggested she try her hand at linoleum-cut printmaking, she took him up on his offer to help her learn how.

Throughout the next year she created a couple prints.

Most of the series’ pieces, shown side by side, illustrate the same design of a Madonna’s face surrounded by puzzle pieces. The butterfly on the woman’s lips represents the artist, a believer in the power of divine intervention and hope.

Brooks enjoyed the process, she said, but something was missing from the prints.

“I needed to color them,” she said. “I love filling in spaces.”

They’re better for it. Color explodes from the 11 prints she is showing at Art Access Gallery this month, alongside work by her printmaking mentor Hill. Applied in acrylics and colored pencil, Brooks’ use of hues makes each Madonna evoke a different emotion, memory, sensation. Consider having multiple coloring book pages of the same print and needing to make each one stand out on its own, color-wise, but also make it continue the story the other pages started telling.

“She’s a marvelous artist,” Hill said of Brooks. “The thing about her work that transcends time is that it’s always so authentic. She has a visual language that is really articulate. It’s always evolving.”

Speaking of an evolution, Hill’s paper lithographs represent a growth of his own. The new work was inspired by a trip he took to New Delhi, India, last year. A frequent world traveler for art research and work, the Otterbein professor of drawing and printmaking felt inspired by India’s particular brand of density.

“It was my first time in India and I didn’t know how or if it would affect my work,” Hill said. “But there are all these visual sensations, tactile sensations. It’s an incredibly tactile place. Virtually every square inch of every surface has content to it.”

Nearly everything at the local marketplace made him take pause, Hill said, so he began collecting whatever he could — bus ticket stubs, napkins from restaurants, overheard conversations. He recorded anecdotes of personal interaction he found interesting in a journal.

Hill used these “artifacts” to remember what it felt like to be in India while working on his new prints, sometimes even to make them. Indian wood blocking and hand tinting techniques appear in several images.

Meditations on how time and distance can warp memory are imminent from Hill’s work, a complement to the introspective place Brooks’ work takes one. The artists got personal so viewers could too.

Photos:

1

“Black Madonna,” by Queen Brooks

2

“Color Around the World,” by Queen Brooks

3

“Lodhi Garden II,” by Nicholas Hill

4

“Lodhi Garden III,” by Nicholas Hill

5

“Lodhi Garden V,” by Nicholas Hill

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Art Access Gallery

June 25-July 27

Artists’ Reception: 5-8 p.m. Friday, June 28

540 S. Drexel Ave., Bexley

614-338-8325

artaccessgallery.com