Most people think of printmaking as a means to multiples, but Nicole Pietrantoni, BS’03, uses the techniques of printmaking—specifically screen printing—as a means to an end.
Pietrantoni, who won Vanderbilt’s prestigious Margaret Stonewall Wooldridge Hamblet Award in 2003, screen-prints on acrylic plates, stacks the plates in various configurations and, by using focused light, creates installations that project images through the screened prints onto the wall. She uses screen prints to create shadow images of the landscape.
“When I started the shadow pieces, I was most agile with screen printing, and that’s what I’ve continued to work with,” Pietrantoni says. “Printmaking is a tool for me, the area where I’m most technically skilled, but I do break away from a lot of what we consider to be traditional printmaking.”
“This Waterfall Is Falling for You” by Nicole Pietrantoni
Pietrantoni has exhibited the installation piece “This Waterfall Is Falling for You” in different configurations, “but conceptually, it’s the same piece to me,” she says. Landscape is her muse, and scale—whether she’s creating 4-by-28-foot installations on acrylic panels or 4-by-5-inch prints on handmade paper—reflects the human reaction to landscape.
“What I’m doing is miniaturizing landscape—taking something grand and overwhelming and making it small,” she says. “I’m also taking pieces about the landscape, like postcards, and thinking about how we commercialize landscape and make it a product.”
Pietrantoni is an assistant professor of art at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash.
See more of Pietrantoni’s work:
For several months in 2009, Pietrantoni worked as artist-in-residence at the University of Iowa Hospital. She incorporated patients’ art and poetry into a 7′ x 16′ site-specific installation for the hospital’s permanent collection. The piece was developed from February through September. “I was drawing and painting with the patients, then took all their drawings and paintings and created films and made screens out of them. I had a giant easel built at the University of Iowa and set those large acrylic panels [four of them] on it. The giant easel would hold them up against a wall, and I’d screen print on them, then have someone help me flip them over so I could screen print on the other side.” Things Like You Screenprint and monoprint on acrylic panels 2009, 7′ x 16′ x 1′ Iowa State Public Art Commission coordinated through Project Art at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
Detail from Things Like You Screenprint and monoprint on acrylic panels 2009, 7′ x 16′ x 1′
Pietrantoni spent a good bit of her Hamblet Award year in Iceland and returned on a Fulbright Fellowship. “I was seeking something that didn’t look like the U.S. or the Midwestern landscape where I grew up,” she says. “I was looking for a very sublime, otherworldly sort of place. When I returned for the Fulbright, I looked at the bigger question of why humans seek out these natural spaces.” Ten Degrees of North Screenprint on acrylic plates, inserted into cut drywall, spotlight 2011, 20″ x 38″ x 4″ Installation at Reykjanes Art Museum, Reykjanesbaer, Iceland
“When we stand in a landscape, our sense perceptions are taking so much in at one time. I’m interesting in the gesture of taking something so large and making it small. I’m also interested in small pieces about the landscape, like postcards, that become saleable or commercialized. [The landscape] becomes a product.” The Forecast Looks Good Cast shadow created by screenprint on acrylic plate with found objects 2010, 11″ x 5” x 8”
“Printmaking is a tool for me, and it’s the area where I’m most technically skilled, but I do break away from a lot of what we think of as traditional printmaking,” she says. “The process and materials really resonate with me—taking an industrial, commercial process to make images of nature that are ephemeral and beautiful. I like that tension.” This Waterfall is Falling for You Installation. Cast shadows created by screenprinted acrylic panels, c-clamps, wire, spotlight 2011, 58″ x 36″ x 7″ Installation at Islensk Grafík Gallery, Reykjavík, Iceland