In these times of local artists feeling marginalized by the Capitalist and Tech boom at large, a.Muse decided to make a statement. A big statement.
Monumental: Large scale Woodcuts and Monotypes by Sirima Sataman & Barry Ebner literally makes space for these two traditional artists to showcase large, monochromatic work that might not otherwise find exposure in San Francisco’s shrinking cultural landscape.
In the words of Sataman, “The tension between monumentality and intimacy is an important part of our work. The scale of the image should encompass the viewer yet also lure them close to the surface of the print. The monumentality of the work makes it the art of the witness. You feel as if you are there.”
While prominent arts institutions in San Francisco, like SFMOMA and the De Young, often go “big,” demonstrated by popular exhibitions featuring luminaries such as David Hockney and Keith Haring, small “for profit” galleries tend to make their money via sales of smaller, less expensive works.
Overwhelmed by the beauty and impact of these oversized wood-cuts and monotypes, some measuring more than 10 feet long, a.Muse director Lori Shantzis decided to throw caution to the wind and present these two artists, long time friends, who literally had to tear out part of a wall to fit Sataman’s 4’x8’ press into their Hunter’s Point studio.
“Unlike painters, printmakers are often limited by the size of their press as well as their materials. There are not many presses big enough to work this scale. It’s treat to be able to go as big as we need (assuming we can find the paper),” says Ebner, who graduated from CCA and currently teaches at the Art Academy of San Francisco.
The physicality of the process is what resonates with Sataman, who started her art training as a sculptor. “It takes two people about 30-45 min to pull each print. It’s a full body workout and I connect with this medium when I carve the wood block, ink the woodcut, and pull the print. It's exhausting and rewarding.”
Ebner adds that scale reinforces the architectural aspect of his work, “I am fascinated by the constructs of the barriers (in society), also by the ruins and remnants of our culture that show up in buildings that have decayed or crumbled. The walls fall down.”
Sataman posits that “as the digital and virtual have become the norm, there is a renewed interest in manual processes such as printmaking” By creating this work and teaching these techniques through their teaching positions, Sataman and Ebner are reconnecting new generations to of a part of our technological history and ensuring that printmaking does not become a lost art.
“In it most basic form, printmaking requires just a plate or block of wood, some ink, and a sheet of paper. Simple materials, simple process. Printmaking can traced back to the 8th century in Japan and China and the 14th century in Europe. The motivation in both cases was the same–to share knowledge and make it more accessible,” says Sataman, owner/founder of INK.PAPER.PLATE, a workshop in Point Reyes.