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McPherson College Alumna Displays Artwork Created in Reverse in MC Exhibit

posted Oct 10, 2013 in CAMPUS EVENTS

Deby Gilley creates her work like other 2D artists, only backwards and with positive and negative space reverse - a bit like how Ginger Rogers danced the same steps as Fred Astaire, only backwards and in high heels.

Gilley ’78 of Aldrich, Mo., works in the medium of relief printmaking, and her work is on display at McPherson College’s Friendship Hall now through Oct. 27.

The relief-printmaking process involves carving an image out of linoleum or wood, applying ink to the raised surface, pressing paper to the ink and pulling it off carefully to create individual prints.

“I think the biggest challenge is carving out the negative space instead of the positive space,” Gilley said. “Also, it’s a mirror image.”

Because it is the raised surfaces that transfer the ink, Gilley has to remove the material from the print where she doesn’t want the lines of the image - the negative space. It’s like carving out photo negatives. Even more challenging are pieces that use multiple colors. Gilley has to ink the block, make a transfer, then carve out the areas for the next color and repeat the process. The ink transfer from one color to the next has to match up as exactly as possible to look correct.

Her resulting work features bold, sharp edges and an old-fashioned look. Printmaking has the benefit of being able to create multiple prints from the same block, each with the same look and quality as the original, while still introducing an element of random variability.

The current show includes 65 works on a variety of themes, including the Ozarks of Missouri, rural life, Christian religion and bluegrass music. Also, because they are all prints, visitors can purchase handmade prints of their own made from the same blocks as those framed and on display.
This is the alumna’s first professional exhibition at McPherson College since her graduation.

“I’m just glad to do this exhibition,” she said. “It’s a beautiful space.”

Coming up with her subjects was hard, Gilley said, until she learned to let go and not worry about it.

“It’s whatever God puts in front of me,” she said. “It used to be a struggle what I was going to do. When I decided that I have an ability and I need to use it for God’s glory, it wasn’t so difficult anymore.”

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