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Connect: Collect print exchange celebrates friendship

Originating from three Oklahoma City-based artists — Emma Difani, Alexa Goetzinger and Virginia Sitzes — Connect: Collect 5 is the latest chapter of an annual print exchange amongst artists from all over the country. The exhibit celebrating friendship and interconnectedness is on exhibit in the Hulsey Art Gallery through Sept. 1.

Difani said the theme for their fifth installment was inspired by what transpired during the COVID pandemic, when in-person indoor gatherings were discouraged.

"When Alexa bought a house, we did a lot of gardening in her yard. It allowed us to still gather outside and enjoy each other's company," she said.

The garden hangouts continue to this day, and the trio liked the idea as an influence to their current exhibit.

The friendship theme "grew out of the idea of how much time, attention and care we give our friendships in order to yield something special," Difani added.

To enhance the exhibit, they "recreated" their garden with a site-specific installation titled "Come Sit With Us" in the Hulsey Gallery. The work features dozens of upcycled, patchwork fabric panels layered with relief and screen prints. Visitors follow a drape-walled circular maze that leads to a garden bench, much like the one they utilized in those backyard gatherings.

Highlighting printmakers working in traditional, analogue techniques, the project brings together makers from around the country and in the growing contemporary art scene in Oklahoma City. In a print exchange, each participating artist creates an edition (series of identical prints) to be traded with the other artists. In the latest exchange, 30 artists were selected from all over the country, and each created an edition of 32 prints. Participating printmakers receive a portfolio with each of the other artists' prints, with two full additional suites of prints available for exhibition, archive or sale.

The artwork reflects on the constantly changing cycles of time, nature and friendship. The immersive installation asks visitors to explore the work and meditate on their own relationships, and acts and as a reminder to pause and "enjoy some time in a friend's sunny garden."

The prints in the exhibition address the theme in a variety of ways, including work made through a collaborative process, dedications to significant people or relationships, and explorations of connection and interdependence.

One section of the exhibit includes selections from the previous four years of Connect: Collect exchanges featuring a wide variety of printmaking techniques and styles in contemporary printmaking. Featured prints include serigraphy (screenprinting), lithography, woodcut, linocut and etching.

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