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Manhattan artist Mary Gordon finds passion in printmaking

Mary Gordon, a Manhattan local, returned to town this year after earning her Masters of Fine Art in Printmaking and Book Arts from the University of Georgia. Gordon said her love for art began at a very young age. “I’ve always been interested in drawing and making things with my hands,” Gordon said. Gordon previously attended Manhattan Christian College and graduated from Kansas State University, but also took a break from school for a year to volunteer with AmeriCorps NCCC. “It was good for me to explore and live a little bit outside of education for a while,” Gordon said. “But I think art kept pulling me back. Eventually I decided to go to school to explore the historical and technical sides of art-making.” As she delved into her art studies, Gordon found herself drawn to the art of printmaking. “Printmaking is a traditional method of making prints by transferring images from a matrix, like wood, linoleum or metal, onto another surface, like paper or fabric,” Gordon said. “Today, printmaking can be used for many different things, commercial or non-commercial. It’s also considered a fine art process in which each ‘print’ in an edition is considered an original.” Gordon’s process of making monotypes involves rolling ink onto a piece of plexiglass and scraping away the ink to form compositions based on color and shape interactions. She then uses a manual printing press to make each print. In describing her work she said, “I explore my environment and daily interactions through a lens of play. The output tends to be more abstract than it is literal.” Though she has studied many forms of art, Gordon said she loves the “surprise element” in printmaking. “One of my favorite things about printmaking is the moment when a print is rolled through and pulled off the press. It’s like you’re seeing it for the first time,” Gordon said. “I love the immediacy of painting, but there’s something really special about the tactile process of making a print.” Printmaking is very manual, almost sculptural, Gordon said. “My habit of collecting scraps of paper and remnant materials has fed into my art practice, specifically my impulse to collage,” Gordon said. “I love opening people up to the world of printmaking because the maker is so involved in every step of making a print.” When she’s not in her studio, Gordon can be found teaching printmaking as an instructor at the Manhattan Arts Center. “The exciting part about teaching for me is when students are learning a new technique, or when they’ve made something they’re really proud of,” Gordon said. If you would like to learn more about printmaking and specifically monotype processes, you can sign up for Gordon's Spring 2021 Monotype class beginning in March at Manhattan Art Center on their website. Gordon will also lead a bookbinding workshop April 10th, 2021.

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