This Wednesday the Honolulu Printmakers hold the opening reception of their 87th Annual Exhibition. Each year, the Printmakers commission an artist to create a Gift Print—a special run of prints of an original work created specially for the exhibition. This year, the Printmakers’ Gift Print artist is Paul Weissman.
Growing up on the shore of Long Island Sound, Paul Weissman has always had a relationship with the natural world. “I was an outdoors type of kid, I only went home to eat and do homework,” says Weissman. “Science fascinated me, but I was also interested in drawing and writing.”
Weissman nurtured these interests up to and through college, where he threw his net wide, studying oceanography, sociology, psychology, architecture, and art. The experience he gained would inform his artistic endeavors, and help him to develop his voice.
His work often deals with the natural world, specifically the harsh realities of the consequences of humanity’s relationship with it. “Certain things have happened—when icebergs the size of Delaware fall off of Antarctica, that’s a scale we’re not used to dealing with,” explains Weissman. “I fear that our answer is going to be that the select few will jump into a spaceship and leave when it gets too bad…I hope not.”
Pretty bleak words—especially for a guy whose smile couldn’t be pried off his face with a crowbar. Weissman’s work doesn’t just bring attention to environmental issues, it tells the history of how humanity has often messed with forces it did not fully understand: from the wide-reaching effects of the Chernobyl disaster, all the way back to the Romans’ use of lead in their aqueducts. In another print titled ‘Bonds,’ (pictured below), we can see the Trifid Nebula (a hydrogen star-bearing nebula), a cumulonimbus thunderhead, and the Bikini Atoll mushroom cloud. Here Weissman suggests that nature (represented by the nebula and thunderhead) balances the forces of destruction and creation at any scale, while humans only seemed to have gotten the hang of destruction (the mushroom cloud).
“I’m definitely trying to say something,” says Weissman. “I hope that the work will capture people’s interest and attention, and that they will stop and spend a little time looking at it.”
As happens every year, the Gift Print is kept secret until its unveiling at the exhibition’s opening reception. While interviewing Weissman, I was lucky enough to steal a glimpse of the print, and while I can’t publish an image of it here, what I can say is that it continues his series addressing environmental issues, and that Weissman hopes that people will be able to hang it in a high-traffic area of their home, preferably the kitchen or bathroom.
Want to see and purchase Weissman’s new print? You’ll have to come to the exhibition for a look! The 87th Annual Exhibition will be on view until March 20. Find all details about the show here.