In Our Gallery: Diptychs, Triptychs, Tetratychs

Member Maggie Stewart‘s abundantly creative work is on exhibit through October 30 in our gallery. To honor her theme of multiples, Stewart selected a mix of new and existing work for her solo show.

What is a tetratych, you ask? Most art patrons are familiar with the terms diptych and triptych. Instead of two or three pieces of related art installed together, it is four.

"Spring" by Maggie Stewart, mixed media print

"Summer" by Maggie Stewart, mixed media print

"Fall" by Maggie Stewart, mixed media print

"Winter" by Maggie Stewart, mixed media print

The grouping of individual yet related works of art goes back a long way in art history. It was common to find polytychs in Medieval and even Renaissance churches.  The individual panels or pieces were hooked together for installation, then separated  for transport to other churches and venues. This enabled church artists to work big without creating cumbersome pieces to move. The most common location for these was at the altar. A visit to a medieval church still reveals these beautiful works of art.

Inspired by this tradition, Stewart has created pieces that can be moved easily and installed separately or hung as one large work of art. Stewart is adept in many different media. She might make a collage from prints or paintings, or even combine the many printmaking techniques that she is so facile in using. For this show there is a cross-section of styles and techniques.

On display are woodcuts, dry point etchings, color etchings, monotypes and some very recent explorations into transfers. The show is even punctuated by a related drawing or painting. The idea of a polytych very well supports Stewart’s method of working in a series. There is an intercommunication among the pieces, as well as a linear story telling.

Stewart’s style and themes reflect diverse skill set she acquired to teach high school and middle school. Stewart started out as a painter and went on to earn her teaching credentials. It was through preparing to teach that she learned a variety of art techniques as well as crafts such as pottery and jewelry. During this period of her education, she was first exposed to original printmaking.

Stewart loves to experiment with the techniques she has acquired throughout her career and often incorporates more than one in her work. She starts with a concept or a drawing, and then allows a conversation between herself and the work, often taking the piece in a totally different direction from the original intent.

"Bride" by Maggie Stewart, woodcut print

In this exhibition, there are  two woodblock prints on display. Stewart was taken with the original shape of the woodblocks, which brought to mind a wedding couple.

"Groom" by Maggie Stewart, woodcut print

Seaside Triptych is a color etching and aquatint. The scene is a view of the sound behind her house in the Outer Banks in North Carolina. Fortunately, Stewart took photos because the view precedes the development of houses and mansions, and no longer exists.

Photos taken from a trip to an island off Mexico served as inspiration for Morning, Noon, and Night. Stewart first made a drawing and then made that into a dry point print.

When asked about what comes next, her reply was, “Lately I have become fascinated with different image transfer methods and have experimented with old prints by using the image from past prints, drawings, or photos. I have added these to new work or to older prints to create new and exciting imagery.”  Two of these are in the show as diptychs.

Please join us for Maggie’s opening reception on Sunday, September 11,  2-4 pm in Studio 325 at the Torpedo Factory. Her show runs from September 3 through October 30, 2011.

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