With their multiple layers of richly allusive, cross-cultural imagery, Teresa Cole’s prints uncover missing links between pattern and meaning, ornamentation and narrative. They occupy a rare common ground between visual seduction and conceptual engagement, employing innovative techniques and lush iconography to explore the commonalities of human experience. The installation, screen prints, and woodcut relief prints on paper and fabric that make up the artist’s Gallery Bienvenu exhibition draw inspiration from her trips to India to research the origins of pattern.
Within these lavish compositions, the viewer will find motifs adapted from the Adalaj step well near Ahmedabad, the ornate wall carvings of a mogul palace in Jaipur, and a baroque array of serpentine flourishes, scrolls, and motifs from the animal and vegetal worlds. These elements jostle and flow together in vignettes that evoke the frenetic, eye-opening wonder of traveling to foreign lands. “In art,” Cole observes, “we use pattern a lot, but very often its meaning is lost. It might allude to identity, but it’s rarely clear what a given pattern actually means. In Indian culture, there are narratives that are so well known that they have become pattern.”
A professor of printmaking at Tulane University, Cole has seen her works exhibited and collected in galleries and museums around the globe. The works are renowned for their virtuosic graphic sophistication, which, upon closer inspection, rewards the viewer with an intense texturality and translucence arising from the layering of inks, cut papers, and fabrics. Some of Cole’s prints resplend with silver leaf on tarlatan fabric, an unusual integration of media blending Indian traditions and Western printmaking techniques. In these works, as across her output, she acts as a transferrer of optical effects and the cultural coding embedded within them. This essentially syntactical enterprise, in Cole’s hands, is never less than visually ravishing, a testament to the crux of her thesis: that mark-making and meaning are one and the same.
June 4 – July 22, 2010