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Print Installation by Allison Hyde

I was in Chico, California, a few weeks ago, accompanying my wife to a reading she was going to give at the CSU campus there. We took the time to visit the Janet Turner Print Museum, which houses a good collection of prints and has regular exhibitions of prints and related material. The show that we saw was by Allison Hyde, winner of the museum's national print competition last year.

Hyde works with objects that she collects or finds, often things that bear traces of a long association with people's lives, such as furniture and luggage. She makes serigraphs (a posh word for screenprint) on transparent fabric, which were hung on wires across the gallery and lit from behind a la Christian Boltanski. First of all, I liked the courage it took to take something that is so instantly associated with a well-known artist (the lightbulbs and the hazy monotone images being a signature of Boltanski's style) and using them in a way that fulfilled the purpose of her own work. That purpose, it seemed to me, was to illuminate fragments of the past without them revealing all their meaning at once.

She also included a dresser retrieved from a house after a fire:

Given that she adds carbon-related matter to the surface of some of her prints, this added to the haunting feeling of the show, and the sensation that we had stumbled upon the soberly preserved wreckage of past lives.

In another part of town, Hyde was also showing a piece in a joint exhibition at 1078 Gallery. It was a single monoprint, created by inking up the floor of an abandoned house, and later piecing together the giant rubbings that resulted.

It dangled from the wall like a piece of old wallpaper, and once you looked at it closely, you saw all the traces and marks of life that had been picked up by the print. The difference in scale between this and the work at the museum doesn't obscure the fact that Hyde seems to create work that is consistent in its concerns.

The space is a beautiful old commercial building in Chico, and like the Turner Print Museum, it's worth looking into if by any chance you ever pass through this part of northern California.


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