Shadow Play: Mezzotints by Dodie Warren

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March 29, 2018 - June 24, 2018
Honolulu Museum of Art

Exhibition Overview

Born in 1929, Dodie Warren is a key figure in Hawaiʻi’s printmaking community. Though she earned a BA degree in Zoology from Chatham College, she embarked on an artistic career as a freelance artist producing scientific illustrations. It wasn’t until after 1979, when Warren completed a Master of Fine Arts degree in Printmaking at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, did her focus shift to the time-consuming, labor-intensive mezzotint process for which she is best known.

In mezzotint, the image surfaces from dark to light. The process begins with the artist repeatedly moving a tool called a rocker across a copperplate to produce a textured burr that will carry the ink. Then, the artist smoothens the burr, diminishing its capacity to catch ink, which yields the lighter-toned areas in the print. The velvety black ink passages and subtle tonal transitions indicative of the mezzotint technique create soft edges and a luminosity that lend well to Warren’s subject matter.

Across the span of her long career, Warren remained consistent in her exacting studies of shadow and light. Shady gardens, window views, downward perspectives and the evocation of setting sunlight situate the viewer in an intimate space at a particular moment in the day. Tranquil scenes emerge by way of her careful line work to form contemplative and sometimes moody compositions. Shadow Play: Mezzotints by Dodie Warren features several recently acquired prints on display in the gallery for the first time. This exhibition highlights the practice of an artist who is known in the national printmaking community as a contributor to the resurgence of highly nuanced techniques, and who also taught courses in photogravure, mezzotint, and other printmaking methods for many years at the Honolulu Museum of Art School.