Silk screen-prints at Hands Gallery
By Frank Ruggiero
Some call it serigraphy, others call it screen-printing, but most call it art.
Sugar Grove artist Joan Meixell will display her intricate and colorful silk screen-prints at the Hands Gallery in Boone, as the cooperative's featured artist from Oct. 9-23.
The ancient art of screen-printing involves a woven mesh on which an ink-blocking stencil is placed, leaving open areas to apply ink. The artist then uses a squeegee to force the ink through the mesh. At least, that's the simple explanation.
Meixell creates her own stencils, which she uses to craft multi-colored prints, mono-prints and monotypes - all a time-consuming, but rewarding, process.
"You have to plan for it a long time," she said. "You need at least two or three hours just to prepare the image and set up the screen."
Each process typically results in a screen that can be used multiple times, though certain variations in the process make each work unique.
Her most recent print is called "Daylilies," using the reduction method, in which the screen openings are gradually reduced for each color - the more abundant the colors, the more intricate the print.
"It's a fun method," Meixell said. "I enjoy experimenting and having fun with it."
An avid runner and bicyclist, Meixell draws inspiration from the many sights and scenes she encounters, from trillium plants to a vista of Tater Hill.
"I have a whole range, lots of little things - I've been using this process for many, many years," she said.
As an art major at Thiel College in Greenville, Penn., Meixell's final class was in silk screen. "I warn people about the last class they take senior year, because ... that's how I got started," she said.
Though schooled with oil-based inks, Meixell found that an efficiency apartment setting was not ideal for such a medium, what with overbearing solvent fumes and all. So, she switched to acrylic inks, which wash off easily with water.
Now working from her home studio in Sugar Grove, Meixell continues to create her own designs, sometimes with her own unique methods.
"I've even used chocolate to block out and make a stencil," she said. "It's fun, and what I love about the process is that there are so many different things I can experiment with - rubbings, pastels, prints that make a design."
Meixell taught a printmaking course at Appalachian State University's Watauga College, and she currently works as a music cataloguer in the university library - a surprisingly apt fit, considering she's also adept at the viola da gamba.
"Music and art have always been a constant in my life," she said. "I really feel lucky."
Meixell is a 12-year member of the Hands Gallery and during the next two weeks will feature around 40 works, as well as 20 miniature cards - all hand-printed originals.
Hands Gallery is located at 543 W. King St. in downtown Boone. For more information, call (828) 262-1970.