Anne McCauley’s exhibition covers 40 years of shapes and scars

Anne McCauley, professor of printmaking and book arts, stands in front of her work, “now you’ve gone too far II,” in the Bobbitt Visual Arts Center. Created in 1983 with graphite and oil pastel, this piece is one of the oldest featured works in her exhibit (Photo by Ashley Cadilac).

In Bobbitt Visual Arts Center, between Sept. 28 and Oct. 26, printmaking and book art professor Anne McCauley displayed 40 years of her pieces for everyone within the community and campus to see. 

“My idea was to capture the essence of stillness with a history of activity, showing the marks from nature as well as the marks from the person that was working the surface,” said McCauley. 

 In Anne McCauley’s exhibition, trace, the piece titled “passage 3” is the first of McCauley’s work to focus on textures found in the world around her. The textures on this piece come from a church column (Photo by Ashley Cadilac). 

The inspiration for McCauley’s art came from an old church in Florence, Italy. McCauley was in a small, dark room when light from a window hit one of the columns in the church. The light reflecting back from the column made the scars and markings visible from when the marble was made into a cylinder. 

“Despite the fact that from not too far away they looked really lovely, up close they were really scarred,” said McCauley. “I was so touched about being made aware of the fact that somebody took this raw material and made these columns from it that I started drawing the striations of the marble and the scars.”

It was there, in Italy, where McCauley shifted her preferred material to Nishinouchi, a type of Japanese paper with a soft golden tone to it. Using a sharp, hard graphite, she scratched up the paper fibers until it was “animated” with marks. Using watered down white gesso, a primer, McCauley repeatedly painted the negative spaces until all of the marks became equally prominent. 

Through this process, McCauley created a piece titled “passage 3,” the piece that marks her shift away from narrative works to a focus on textures. 

“That initial experience sort of launched me on this path,” said McCauley. 

In addition to Florence, this path lead McCauley through many locations, such as Virginia, France, Germany, Georgia and Ireland, where she drew inspiration from the world around her. Some of her images come from observations of the real world while some of the other shapes and marks are invented. She calls them a combination of “real and imagined surfaces,” some of which come from nature and others from architecture. 

“I’ve examined, walked on, walked by and stood under these marks,” said McCauley. 

Considering that the trace exhibition spans across 40 years of her art career, McCauley had to search through boxes and drawers to pick and choose which pieces would be displayed in the two galleries.  

“As I pulled them out, they were so familiar to me,” said McCauley. “I could remember where I was when I did them. I could remember working on them. I could remember saying, ‘Okay this is done’ and matting it and putting it in a drawer.”

Each chosen work is a time capsule, representing and symbolizing different periods of her life, such as before and after giving birth to her two daughters, Brenna and Aubrey. 

In addition to her exhibition, McCauley’s life is undergoing a change. Her time as an Albion College professor is coming to an end as she slowly phases into retirement. In preparation for McCauley’s retirement, Emmeline Solomon has been hired as a tenure-track faculty to teach printmaking, book arts and foundation courses.

Meanwhile, McCauley is moving into her new studio, where she will be working as a full-time professional artist while also attending artist residencies on occasion. 

“I don’t see myself ever not making art,” said McCauley. “This is something that I want to do for the rest of my life. I like the challenge, and it brings me a lot of joy.”

About Ashley Cadilac 2 Articles
Ashley Cadilac is a junior from Ferndale, Michigan. She is an honors student majoring in Environmental Studies and English Professional Writing. Outside of the classroom, Ashley is a creative writer and gamer with a strong love for horror, fantasy, and anything in-between.

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