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Summer 2003

An interview with Denise Giardina

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From the Director

A convergence of printmakers and potters

Monoprints of Barbara Marsh Wilson

Interview with Mark Wolfe

Fiber artists share

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Collective Impressions
A convergence of printmakers and potters

By Bonnie Fuoco

Stifel Fine Art Center’s current exhibition, Collective Impressions, combines the work of printmakers Barbara Marsh Wilson, Mary Grassell and Peter Massing with that of potters Louise Lamar-Fuller and Bozena Plucinska. These individuals are distinguished artists with a deep appreciation and love of their mediums.

Louise Lamar-Fuller grew up in coastal Texas but has lived in Morgantown for the past 30 years. In 1975, while taking a break from her studies at West Virginia University, where she was working on a Ph.D. in English, she discovered clay and learned to use the potter’s wheel. That changed the direction of her life, “radically moving me from the abstraction of words to the visible and tangible communication of ideas by making things with clay.”

 A year and a half later, the University hired her to direct the Craft Center Studio, a clay studio for students and staff. She says it was providence. “Fate had given me a full time job in a pottery studio, teaching others while I kept learning myself.”

In 1990, after years of making functional, wheel-thrown items, she began to make hand-built pieces, feminine figure bottles, that she says, “combine utility with idea and image and evoke a sense of celebration, care, joy and even sorrow.”

In addition to her job (which lasted until 2002), her own studio work, exhibitions and slide lectures, Lamar-Fuller has written and published articles about clay and other ceramic artists. She has also coordinated a ceramic artists’ interest group since 1990 and in 2001 was a founding member of The Gallery at Seneca Center.

Her contributions to Collective Impressions are “tall flared vase forms that I call Cornucopias. I have made them in the past on the wheel, with hand-built bases. They are most graceful and strong and speak of generosity.”    

Bozena Plucinska was one of the many people who walked into the Craft Center Studio during Louise Lamar-Fuller’s stewardship. She had come to the United States from Poland in 1989 and after brief stay in Buffalo, found herself in Morgantown, “trying to find my place in a new country.”

Plucinska credited Lamar-Fuller with helping her through her “first steps in pottery.” Plucinska said, “I was determined to master the clay quickly and begin to accomplish all my dreams of transferring ideas into visible objects. The clay was my destination.”

Bozena Plucinska’s recent exhibits include The Artisan Center and Stifel Fine Art Center in Wheeling. About her work, she said, “Among my favorite pots are hand-built vases, bottles, boxes and any kind of sculptural vessels. I am a nature-loving person, and my pots have organic forms. I like simplicity of form, earthly colors and moderation in decoration.”

Interior Landscape #26

Printmaker Jan Griffin exhibits her “Interior Landscapes,” part of a 40-piece series of silkscreen prints. “Each edition was very small (under 24 prints) and they were each four inches by four inches. They originally depicted cozy places in which one could curl up with a good book. Toward the end of the series, I began to incorporate figures in the designs and Anna Bell Li was the last in the series and was a portrait.”

“Interior Landscape #26,” one of Jan Griffin’s Interior Landscapes series of silk screen prints.

Griffin discovered the medium of silk screen many years ago by chance. Providence was working overtime. “Having spent more than 30 years with silk screen work, I still find it exciting and challenging. Tiring of the restrictions of miniatures, I have recently turned to larger formats. The recently completed, ‘The Ayes Have It’ screen print is 24 inches by 36 inches, and required 78 separate screens and nine weeks of intensive work.” This work was scheduled for exhibit at the Clay Center’s inaugural opening.

Griffin’s studio, Sassafrolly Print Studio, is “open to students where they may use a small etching press for watercolor monotypes, as well as several types of printmaking methods.”

Graphic designer and printmaker Mary Grassell makes “hand-pulled” wood block prints that express some of the self-reflective questioning of contemporary life. “I am interested in color, design of composition and the storytelling aspect of the medium,” Grassell said.

“They Passed Fast,” a color woodblock print by printmaker and designer Mary Grassell. This print, an allegory of life passing by quickly, was accepted for a juried exhibition that was part of the Three Rivers Arts Festival.

"They Passed Fast"

A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University and Syracuse University, Grassell now teaches art at Marshall University. Since her professional career began, she has spent and continues to spend part of her life in the world of commercial graphic art.

For her this is no contradiction. “I am a printmaker by choice (or should I say, in addition to being a designer) because the two areas of art are so absolutely related. Both printmaking and design depend upon a mechanical process to complete the art, and those mechanics must be considered and planned, but are essentially unpredictable in their results. Both result in multiple images and both are marvelous mediums for telling a story and spreading a message to many. These are the reasons I love to create prints. These are the reasons I love creating graphic design.”

Peter Massing studied printmaking at Ohio State University. Since 1989 he has been an associate professor in printmaking and drawing at Marshall University.

Massing described his relationship to his work: “Process is the motivating force behind my creativity. Images I develop document the process. I find printmaking most gratifying because it raises my consciousness about the changes that direct my energy during various states of developing an image.

“I play games, create problems to solve, stimulate ideas, impose limitations, and try to manipulate the things that are out of my control. I am challenged by the variables involved and am continuously learning how to give and how to take, and when to let what happens guide my direction.”  

Massing’s etchings, lithographs and mixed media prints have a Northern Renaissance feel about them. They are meditative and expressive. “I find great pleasure in mark-making and drawing. The physical characteristic of cutting, scraping, scratching and burnishing satisfy my amusement with mark-making. I like to explore a variety of media to obtain a feeling that will define my actions during the process.”

In addition to his duties as a teacher, Massing has curated exhibits, coordinated visiting artist exhibitions and workshops at Marshall, and conducted summer printmaking workshops.

Regarding the Collective Expressions exhibit, Massing said, “The interesting thing about this opportunity is that printmakers in particular are often working collectively in a region or print shop/studio with one another, and like to collaborate with one another and share experiences. I personally find printmaking to be a collaborative experience for groups sharing space and presses, etc. It’s ‘good for the soul’ to share the tools of the trade, so to speak.”

For information about other events and exhibits at Stifel Fine Arts Center, call 304-242-7700 or 888-696-4283. The museum is located at 1330 National Road in Wheeling, WV. Contact writer Bonnie Fuoco at: