We’d only been at Gallery 1313 for a minute or two when a warbling voice cut across the din of the crowd.
“You’re supposed to be wearing the gloves when you’re handling the book,” we heard. “They’re on the table.”
Sure enough, there they were—a pair of white, cotton gloves, sitting on the table next to the display.
“Sorry,” we said (and we meant it). “Didn’t see them there.”
But she’d left already. We’d heard her voice—but we couldn’t find a face to match; the finger-wagging warbler (not one of the printmakers, we later deduced) had disappeared into a swarm of OCAD students by the time we’d turned around.
Just as we’d predicted: we were out of our league—way out of our league. We’d been invited to Prints Are Like That, an exhibition of OCAD’s fourth-year Printmaking students’ theses, and we’d already outed ourselves as the artistically challenged, glove-eschewing idiot of the bunch. So we put the book down (it was part of Megan Speers’s northern Ontario, punk-inspired installation), and kept our hands in our pockets for the remainder of the evening.
“We’re pushing printmaking to its limits,” said Michelle Galletta, (another) one of the thirteen printmakers. Drawing on her own upbringing—her strict, Catholic upbringing—Galletta’s installation (which included a display of wax fingers with confessions inside, and a series of dangling, lithograph prints of body parts—her own!) also pushed the limits of her own experiences.
As we wandered around the crowded room, literally rubbing elbows with OCAD’s Lucky-drinking printmakers and their many admirers, it became clear that each print—each thesis—pushed both the material limits of each student’s capabilities and the autobiographical boundaries of each printmaker’s twenty-odd years of looking at the world. From neon-coloured screenprints to serene video-projections to—yes!—mobile-like lithographs of hairy crotches, Prints Are Like That told us thirteen different stories we’d never heard before. And we were captivated by them all.
All photos by Nick Kozak/Torontoist.