The exhibition Graphite, opening tonight at the IMA, explores the vast artistic potential of a material most often associated with more traditional approaches to drawing. Its flexibility – whether it’s powder, liquid, machined, carved, or pencil – is mirrored in each artist’s unique approach to the material in their work. Below are quotes from a selection of the artists in the exhibition that highlight this range in perspective:
“What I like most about graphite, in the way I use it, is its ability to transform the surface or object to which you’re applying or transferring it.” – Dan Shaw-Town
“And drawing, especially with graphite, is one of the few things that you can control yourself. You can do what you want. And so it was a way of making this world that is comfortable for me.” – Kim Jones
“I want to be drawing these images because I love them more than any other imagery.” – Dan Fischer
“Graphite is material that in both industrial usage and culture holds and neutralizes energy. When I was asked to be in the exhibition, I was really interested in this kind of alternate, inert quality of the material. So rather than thinking about it as a traditional artistic tool, I started to think about it conceptually and was taken by this idea of pulling in and holding energy—in this case, a kind of societal, psychic energy.” – Geof Oppenheimer (Come hear more from Geof tomorrow at noon during a lunchtime lecture in the galleries).
“I find there’s an exacting capacity to the point of the graphite pencil that, when fully attended to, reveals the inevitable limits of precision and control of the hand.” – Judith Braun
“I think what I’m doing is observational drawing. I’m just not drawing the objects that people typically think of as the things an artist draws from observation.” – Molly Springfield
“The conductivity of graphite has been central to developing the possibilities for the relationship between form, function, and materiality that characterizes these drawings.” – Joyce Hinterding
“I think I chose drawing because I was interested in that basic human connection. I drew as a child, sure, but I consciously chose drawing as an adult artist. There was a break in there where I came to recognize drawing as its own entity.” – Karl Haendel
“Every one of those drawings is the result of a different gesture or technique. They all come together because they share the same medium, same format, same paper.” – Roland Flexner
“What’s interesting about the technique I use with the graphite is the similarity there is to processing a photograph in the darkroom, where the light and dark values can be manipulated by the exposure time.” – T.R. Ericsson
An accompanying digital catalogue will launch this January and will feature a wealth of in-depth material about their work and use of graphite, including interviews with the artists, videos of their installations, a scientific analysis of the material, and much (much) more.