March 14, 2016
OS Gives Artists A Leg Up
Written by Chris Jones
Screen printer Nicholas Shick demurs when I ask if he’s a master printer: “I try to be humble about my technical skills,” he says, “because I feel like as soon as I start talking out of the other side of my mouth the printmaking Gods are going to cause me some kind of problem. So I try to keep it on the down low.”
Semantics aside, Shick (above and below left) is a very accomplished technician with years of experience under his belt, which is why he’s in the studio this week working with his fourth Open Studio Visiting Artist, in this case, Stephanie Cormier.
The Visiting Artist program is Open Studio’s most heavily subscribed residency: there are four spaces each year and this year the program received approximately 50 applications.
Multi-disciplinary artist Cormier is working with Shick on two large print editions that will become part of a bigger exhibit of fantastical “tools of the imagination.” One of the collaborators’ screen prints uses 11 different colours, which is why they’ll only be able to finish two editions in the 50 hours of studio time allotted to the visiting artist and her technical mentor.
“I’m way more relaxed about the technical points,” says Cormier. “I need someone like Nick to rein me in and insist on getting it right.”
Shick stops at nothing to ensure his registration is just so and that includes bellying up to the work to tweak the position.
“I feel proud of the technical achievement,” confirms Shick, “but the artist expression belongs to Stephanie and I’m just part of what’s allowing her to express herself in this medium. If I have an opinion, aesthetically, I’ll share it but I really step back and just help make the piece happen. Stephanie mixes all the colours herself and I apply them to the paper.”
Cormier says, “I like the process of collaborating with someone and learning about a new medium through a collaborative work environment.”
Final word goes to Shick: “The Visiting Artist Residency is a great program,” he says. “It gets a lot of different artists into the studio who aren’t necessarily experienced with print. It also allows printmakers to take on more ambitious projects or work with techniques that may be new to them and work collaboratively with someone like myself.”
After spending time in the studio with Cormier and Shick, I think they’d both agree, it’s a win/win.
Cormier’s work will be exhibited at the Studio May 13 – June 11.