Duncan Dempsters gift print for the 2008 Honolulu Printmakers show.
Academy displays prints
An exhibit's featured artist especially values the creative process
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Duncan Dempster, an art teacher at the University of Hawaii, designed the 2008 Gift Print for the annual Honolulu Printmakers show.
The relief print was "pretty much was an open-ended project," the artist says. "I didnt have a complete sketch; it evolved on the press with multiple layers of imagery."
Dempster worked on the piece "every week or two" for several months, printing a layer and then reacting to it with another. "In a way it was very much a collaging or drawing process. I used the press to draw things out, stretched the definition of drawing."
The Honolulu Printmakers 80th Annual Exhibition is on display through March 14 at the Honolulu Academy of Arts.
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In the face of our consumptive society, "it's really critical to be a maker of things," says printmaker Duncan Dempster. It doesn't matter what you make, just that you do so.
"It's a fundamental human activity," the artist says.
Dempster, an art teacher at the University of Hawaii for eight years, is Honolulu Printmakers' Gift Print Artist for 2008. As part of its annual exhibition, the group commissions an artist each year to make a special piece unveiled at its juried show.
"What's powerful about doing art is that you're the primary maker of things -- (you're) working with tools and materials to make meaning and objects. That's what I try to instill in my students," he says.
That maker's perspective "informs everything I do, the way I interact with the world. I look at things and wonder if I can make it rather than buy it. That drives people crazy sometimes."
Dempster grew up in Hawaii and earned his undergraduate printmaking degree in California in 1990. He returned to the isles and enrolled at UH, where he earned a Master of Fine Arts in printmaking, and has been a member of Honolulu Printmakers since the mid-1990s. Dempster says the organization plays a vital role in Hawaii's art community.
"The Printmakers offers a way for young artists to continue to practice what they've learned after they're done with school," he says. "It provides communal access to facilities and presents a great exhibition opportunity for everyone each year.
"It keeps printmaking alive in the community."
"Green Monkey Pod Tree" by Michi Itami
THIS YEAR'S exhibit, the Printmakers' 80th, was juried by screen-printer Laura Berman, a teacher at the Kansas City Art Institute. Berman selected 104 pieces from 230 submissions. Printmakers director Laura Smith says Berman paid special attention to the installation of the exhibition.
"She was very particular about where things went and how they related to each other," Smith says.
The result is a show that creates a sense of intimacy.
"There are few big prints and lots of small ones that a person can relate to himself. It's not a show with big statements," she says.
What also pleases Smith is that the exhibit is filled with "newness": established artists trying out new techniques and many artists new to the show. "That's always good for an outfit that's done 80 shows," she quips.
The continued vitality of the annual exhibit speaks to its enduring value for artists who seek to develop their talent.
"It's really important for young people to have something to look forward to after they're finished with school," she says, echoing Dempster's thoughts. "Part of the attraction is getting a juror from the mainland each year. They provide a special and different perspective, and artists can get really good feedback about what they're doing."
Honolulu Printmakers 80th Annual Exhibition
With 2008 Gift Print Artist Duncan Dempster
» On exhibit: Through March 14
» Place: Academy Art Center, 1111 Victoria St.
» Hours: 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays
» Call: 536-5507 or visit honoluluprintmakers.com
Call 536-5507 to RSVP
» "Tales of the Master Printer": Lecture by Paul Mullowney, artistic director of Hui Noeau and master printer of HuiPress, 1 p.m. Saturday, Academy Art Center
» Tour of academy print vault: Michael Rooks, curator of European and American art, leads the tour, noon March 9