Alumna artist balances memory with permanence in print exhibit

The Kinetic Gallery opened “Suspending the Impermanent: Imprints From a Throwaway Culture” on Monday Nov. 10. The display features a series of unconventional prints from artist Briana Zimmerman ‘12. Upon entering the gallery, the pieces are immediately striking. They all follow a general composition—fairly small pieces with white backgrounds, featuring tiny yet dramatic prints. While there are differences in color, subject and technique, the pieces flow nicely together to create a cohesive display. Some prints feature faces, while others simply suggest figures and are entirely abstract.

The prints are made in mixed media. They feature image transfers from Zimmerman’s own photography, as well as magazines––primarily The New York Times. The unusual nature of the prints makes it unclear as to what her exact process is.

“It’s kind of complicated, but there are a few main points. Basically, I transfer images that I either take on film or from magazines, then I either imprint them onto canvas or paper with paint thinner, a gel medium or some type of solvent that would take the ink off the original image,” Zimmerman said. “I rub them until the image transfers.”

In some works, pieces of the actual magazine paper remain on the transfer. This creates an interesting contrast between the soft lines of the transferred image with the bold colors and shapes on the magazine paper.

The design of the exhibit works well. As one walks through it, there is a noticeable balance between the more haunting, mysterious pieces in black and white with bold, colorful pieces featuring feminine faces or forms.

Although the pieces are untitled, one piece that is particularly striking features the face of a young girl wearing a soft, pink hijab. The image is distorted and worn around the edges, but the girl’s face stands out with its dark shadows and heavy contrast. Matching the title of the exhibit, the use of white space surrounding the subject makes her appear suspended in space.

The pieces stand alone well, but Zimmerman’s explanation only furthers the intrigue. She explained that her hope in creating these pieces was to capture fleeting moments and permanently imprint them. She also discussed the importance of consumerism.

“Normally, when people are flipping through a newspaper or magazine, they would just throw [these images] away,” she said. “[Companies] try to get us to buy [their products] and then throw them away and buy more stuff, so I’m trying to contain everything and preserve everything in my artwork.”

The technique is generally similar for all the pieces. There are small variations in material but large differences in time. Zimmerman explained how some pieces took as little as five minutes to transfer the way she desires, while others took as long as four hours. In order for the prints to be more vibrant and detailed, Zimmerman has to rub the transfer longer. This painstaking technique proved for an intricately designed assemblage.

“Suspending the Impermanent: Imprints From A Throwaway Culture” will be on display in the Kinetic Gallery until Dec. 1.