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Ian Colewell

Winter 2023 EMERGE AIR; print

Ian Colwell

Ian is an incoming artist-in-residence as a part of the RWS Emerge program for the second session of its inaugural year. Ian primarily works in printmaking and has been using digital programs like Procreate and Adobe Photoshop to replicate some of the work that they usually make in the absence of access to a studio equipped with traditional printmaking tools and equipment, “I find that with working digitally, the tablet and stylus has the opportunity to replicate what you find in print, however, I miss the components of what can happen when you put a monotype through a press–you can see all those different layers of colors and modify transparencies physically instead of on a screen. I miss the adventitious nature of print.”

They fell in love with MECA&D over six years ago when a representative visited Ian’s high school. While earning their degree they explored majors in painting and ceramics before falling in love with printmaking at the last minute, “I felt as a printmaker I could not only paint and sculpt, I could do many multifaceted things within my practice.” Ian loves the backwards and forwards thinking process required in printmaking. They graduated from MECA&D in 2020 and now works as an Admissions Counselor, giving presentations about the Bachelors of Fine Arts program in high schools across New England.

Typical postgraduate growing pains have been heightened by the pandemic; Ian took a year-long break from printmaking to allow time to mourn their senior year. Inspiration and income were a challenge during this time and it was hard for Ian to be motivated to get to the studio. Ian took a step back to focus on the small things in their day to day, taking videos of themselves brewing coffee or photos of things like a crack in the pavement on their way to work. These small moments built up enough inspiration for Ian to pick up a tablet and start recreating the works they were making in a studio setting on a digital lens. The format lacks printmaking details like how the oil sits on different parts of the paper or the sheen of the graphite on different layers, but it’s been a great way for Ian to create studies and get back in the mindset of making art. Ian recently completed a two-month fellowship at Pickwick Independent Press, funded by a professional artist grant from MECA&D awarded to current students and alumni.

Ian looks forward to experimenting and playing in the studios at RWS, to silencing the inner critic, and working in a non-academic art space. They’re not taking themselves too seriously, like they did in college, and look forward to experimenting with monoprinting, bringing with them a new love of zines, risographs, and printed ephemera. They plan to make more sculptural based forms while in residence. The content of this series will explore Ian’s experience as a non-binary artist operating in a binary world, “The objective is not for people to understand what that feels like, but to build enough confidence to take up space in a world that doesn’t have a lot of representation of non-binary or gender non-conforming artists.” The work’s purpose is to give Ian agency, take up physical space, and create ‘representation monuments’ that function as portraits. The portraits will take on a sculptural form with printed material applied to wooden structures.

Ian hopes to have a collection of work at the end of the residency to show at a gallery and use for residency and fellowship applications. Ian is looking forward to making art again and hopes to be a practicing member of the RWS print department at the conclusion of the program.

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To learn more about Ian’s work and process

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