In her artist statement, Tokyo-born printmaker Yoshiko Shimano says that she is “moved when human beings continue to live with pride and hope even under difficult circumstances like wars, natural disasters, poverty or discrimination.”
But how might an artist illustrate this notion? Resilience and adversity are broad concepts that can’t be “seen” in any traditional sense. Besides, what would the subject be? Poverty and war are global phenomenons that affect vast populations—whereas hope and pride happen on an individual level, perhaps even inside a person’s head.
In Shimano’s new show Engraving on Land, now at the Fine Arts Gallery at the College of Southern Nevada’s North Las Vegas campus, the University of New Mexico professor offers a compelling answer. Through a variety of printing methods—woodcut, silkscreen, stencil, monoprint, linoleum cut—an abstract portrait of a place and people emerge from the layers of prints. The pieces are giant impressionistic landscapes for the Google Maps era.
In the 96-by-156-inch “70 Years of Silence” (2015) pink tropical flowers and dark smudges obscure layered maps of the U.S. and Japan. The smaller country appears a white, flowered-filled gash through the Midwest, dissecting the country.
“Compensation for the Country” (96” x 92”, 2015) could be viewed as simply a colorful decorative piece. But there’s something unnerving about the mix of colorful and black-printed flowers. The chrysanthemums bear an uncanny resemblance to atom bombs. And the clumped orange flowers could be an island nation on fire. The effect is terrible and beautiful. Or just beautiful, depending on what the viewer chooses to see.
At 192-by-45 ½ inches, “Black Tears and Black Rain” (2017) takes up an entire wall. Comprised of a cool blue-green palette, the swirling, abstract colors harken back the French Impressionist painter Claude Monet’s famous “Water Lilies” series. Or it could be an oil slick or perhaps the fog of war. Invisible from afar but clear up close, small printed flowers bloom despite the darkness.
Over in CSN’s Artspace Gallery, Chinese-born, New Jersey-based multimedia artist and designer Jing Zhou finds find patterns in the architecture of the universe in her Visual Meditations. In “Non-Duality” (2009), she juxtaposes the rings of a tree with what appears to be a time-lapse photo of the night sky. The two forms of concentric rings are near mirror-images of the other. In “Infinity” (2008), geometric lines and circles annotate the flight of geese. The images are all 17-by-13 inch archival inkjet prints.
Dating back to the aughts, the photo manipulations seem marked by their moment—they were made when digital cameras and computers were still new. In “Randomness” a repeating spiral could be a seashell or simply a representation of fractal geometry. Each image is indeed a meditation.
ENGRAVING ON LAND Artist reception: April 18, 6 p.m. Through April 28; Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; free.
VISUAL MEDITATIONS Through April 7; Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-10:30 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; free.
North Las Vegas Campus of the College of Southern Nevada, 3200 E. Cheyenne Avenue, 702-651-4146.