Photo: Elizabeth Dove, It Started with Aardvark: Letters X, Y, and Z screenprints, 2012, copyright the artist.

Elizabeth Dove: It Started With Aardvark

June 19 2017 - September 23 2017

It Started with Aardvark is an exhibition that demonstrates Dove’s skill as a printmaker, her predilection for conceptual art, and the dexterity with which she combines them. The exhibition features a series of 26 screen-prints (one for each letter of the alphabet) of all the illustrations in a dictionary. “These screen-prints do not portray the 3,100 dictionary illustrations as separate images as they are in the dictionary volume,” Dove explains, “but instead overlap them in successive layers printed one on top of another so that they co-exist as one merged graphic icon, a hybrid of all visual knowledge.”

Dove is a professor at the School of Art at the University of Montana. She exhibits locally and internationally, including a recent solo exhibition at the Lessedra Gallery in Sofia, Bulgaria, and at MAM in 2007. Dove has implemented non-toxic printmaking processes at UM and researched the integration of digital technology and traditional printmaking practices. Her research has been published in the books The Contemporary Printmaker, Non-toxic Intaglio Printmaking, and in the British journal, Printmaking Today.

The laborious process of searching, gathering, and screen-printing the images is not just a means to an end for Dove; it is the conceptual foundation of her work. Every print in this series is a lengthy undertaking, with an average of 100 layers per image and some with more than 300. “Each heavily-layered print becomes a gestural, somewhat haunted composite which is both legible and chaotic, a dense logo of information,” Dove states. The time she invests into creation of each piece is critical to the content and essential to interpreting the resulting prints. The central, recurring themes in Dove’s work are memory, the passing of time, and the search for meaning. She integrates the process of printing and her experience of creating with the content of the finished material. In this regard, Dove is physically working through the questions and conflicts that the finished prints explore for resolution. The resulting work is lush with densely layered and complex imagery, reinforcing the physical memory of its creation. “It is this quality of passing time, the compression of visual and textual history into one icon, which needs to be unpacked and deciphered by a viewer that is the crux of this project,” says Dove.