LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies | Alchemical Reaction: The Making of Michael Joo’s 7 Sins
February 2 – April 2, 2021
Alchemical Reaction: The Making of Michael Joo’s 7 Sins
LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies
A conceptual artist whose work has taken various forms including sculpture, photography, painting, performance and installation, Michael Joo collaborated with Master Printer, Nathan Catlin, and students at the Neiman Center in 2016 to realize, 7 Sins, a groundbreaking series of silvered screenprints. Joo’s experimental approach to making work aligned precisely with the Center’s mission to provide visiting artists with the technical and creative support they need to investigate and push the boundaries of traditional printmaking.
This ambitious project required the Neiman staff to expand beyond their printshop’s walls and into Joo’s large Red Hook studio. To produce an edition of silvered screenprints – rather than a singular drawing – required both artist and printer to think outside the box. Each print in the edition of eight was made by screenprinting an epoxy resin onto paper and then applying a mix of silvering chemicals to each sheet with a hand-held mister. The silvering chemicals attached to the epoxy on the paper to create a unique metallic surface on each print depending on the way the mist was applied and adhered to the epoxy. The process required Catlin and his team of MFA students to build out a series of self-contained yet temporary work spaces in Joo’s studio so that multiple sheets of paper could be worked on at the same time without the moisture and mist from one interfering with the other. Each work station was rather low tech: made from foam core, it contained a wall on which to hang the print and a tray of kitty litter at the bottom of the wall to collect and absorb the chemical residue. The toxic nature of the process required all those involved in the editioning of the prints to wear respirators and protective clothing.