Blair Saxon-Hill: City Dip
November 18, 2022 - December 23, 2022
Pace Prints is pleased to announce a solo exhibition by artist Blair Saxon-Hill, on view November 18–December 23, 2022, at Pace Prints’ new gallery location at 536 West 22nd Street. This presentation, titled City Dip is the artist's first exhibition at the gallery after a residency funded by the Ford Family Foundation.
Working across mediums, Blair Saxon-Hill creates figurative assemblages and fabric collages on panel that are pedestrian and raw, turning the viewer to a visceral material world of paint and matter to register current cultural and political realities. Saxon-Hill expanded her practice during her residency at Pace Prints by collaborating with master printers Sarah Carpenter, Justin Israels, and Mackenzie Kimler as well as master papermakers Emily Chaplain, Rachel Gladfelter, and Akemi Martin; collectively, they pushed the historical limitations of both print and papermaking. The innovative approaches to making monoprints (singular, unique prints) and collages was grounded by the Portland, Oregon, artist’s consideration of her surroundings. Saxon-Hill’s work reflects the freedom of an artist to be an observer in a new place with New York City as her muse.
For the last six years at the Pace Prints’ studio, Justin Israels has perfected a magnetic sheeting printing technology which affords collage-based artists the flexibility to cut printing plates by hand. As a material-driven artist, Saxon-Hill chose to incorporate fabrics into the printing process, further expanding the possibilities of the printing technology. To produce a monoprint, a magnetic plate is first cut by the artist into a puzzle of the image. She then assigned sections for fabric textures to be transferred by the press onto the magnet pieces, utilizing a technique known as pressure printing. The resulting unique print is a myriad of connecting textures and patterns employing a similar patchwork sensibility to that of the artist’s fabric and found object collage works. Seen in the clothing on the figures in the monoprint titled City Dip, the fabric feels embedded in the cityscape, acting in contrast to the delicate blues created by a rainbow roll color gradation. The monoprints on display maximize the potential of surface texture in print and further reward the viewer when the works are viewed up close.
In addition to the monoprints, the printers produced large scale monoprinted papers with surface textures and colors predetermined by the artist for her collages. Saxon-Hill describes her collage process as “drawing or thinking with scissors.” In the large-scale collage titled Studio View, Saxon-Hill depicts the print studio’s window with shelves full of potted plants that have been gifted to the printers over the years by artists-in-residence. Saxon-Hill’s meticulous focus on pattern is ever present with each individual element carrying equal weight in the collage’s composition. The plants are arranged with the same playful whimsy as the skyscrapers they supersede. The ethic of reciprocity and care that is shared between the artist and her collaborators in the studio is personified in these sited plants.
During the artist’s time at the Pace Prints’ paper studio under the direction of Akemi Martin, Saxon-Hill expanded upon a “wet on wet” transfer technique. In The Psychic, a portrait inspired by a visit to a New York fortune teller, a colorful handmade paper work was created by fusing pigmented wet pulp to wet pulp and collaging in dry ancient fibers, such as kozo (mulberry) and amate (bark) to the wet pulp. Fabrics were once again utilized, this time as a template, to protect portions of wet pulp. The negative spaces of the fabrics were then blown out with water pressure, leaving a lace-like pulp residue of the positive space of the fabric pattern. The overall production process of this pulp collage, which becomes an enormously complex piece of handmade paper when dry, was a feat. The work is massive for a handmade sheet of paper, at 60 by 40 inches, and the largest the studio had made to date.
From the neighborhood kids to the peddlers, the dog walkers, and the embracing couples, Saxon-Hill looks to the everyday as a place of attention. Collaborating in these highly complex studio processes during her time in residence, she has once again asserted herself as a truly innovative artist that inserts the world into the work; this time with New York City at the center.