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Printmaking Excellence and the Artistic Process

Friday, February 17, 2012
Marymount University senior Jennifer Lillis, an Art major, has three prints on exhibit in the second annual Excellence in Printmaking Exhibition at the Washington Printmakers Gallery in Washington, DC, which runs through February 26, 2012. Honored to have her work accepted into the show, she was thrilled when one of her prints, titled Pythia, won second place.

The three prints all have names inspired by ancient Greek culture. Pythia, often called the “Oracle of Delphi,” was the priestess of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. Another print is titled Omphalos, which is an ancient religious stone that represents the center (or “navel,” as the word translates) of the world. One of the most famous omphalos stones is located in Delphi. The third print is Pass at Thermopylae, which is where a small Greek force bravely held off the massive Persian army for seven days in 480 B.C.

Now firmly ensconced in the art world with plans to pursue a Master of Fine Arts, Jennifer didn’t begin her college career with that goal in mind. “I was a Business Administration major originally,” she says with a laugh. “In fact, I only took one art class when I was at Bishop O’Connell High School.”

At Marymount, she enjoyed art classes taken initially as electives. Then study abroad courses – on painting, handmade books, and still life in Greece, as well art history in Belgium – really ignited her passion for art. Jennifer is hoping to fit one more study abroad experience in this May to work on water landscapes and mixed media on the French Riviera.

Printmaking has become her specialty. Jennifer describes her artistic approach as an unconscious process or spontaneous automatism. She explains, “The unconscious influences one’s behavior and experiences even when the person is unaware. I use the process of automatic drawing to carve into a linoleum block – unifying the positive and negative space.” She adds, “I divide the surface into sections, alternating between each to develop the relationship between line, shape, and form throughout the design.”

Jennifer’s detailed designs feature swirls and patterns in interaction with one another – reflecting her inner world and the process of working through life experiences. Her work also invites viewers into a dialogue. She says, “I hope they have their own experience and enjoy it.”

Jennifer will graduate in May with a B.A. in Art and a minor in Art History. She’s now exploring MFA programs that offer a focus on printmaking and is considering teaching down the road. Jennifer is also glad that she has a foundation of business knowledge to balance her artistic side!