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Exhibition: Carol Wax: Extraordinary Objects from April 5, 2024 to May 24, 2024 at Childs Gallery, Boston

Carol Wax: Extraordinary Objects

Press Release:

BOSTON, MA – Carol Wax's masterful mezzotint engravings depict the ordinary as extraordinary. Using dramatic lighting effects, exaggerated perspectives, and a dose of wit, Wax transforms commonplace objects into astonishing icons, cleverly revealing "the anima in the inanimate".  

Wax originally trained as a classical musician at the Manhattan School of Music, earning a bachelor's degree in 1975 with a major in flute performance. While continuing to work as a musician, Wax took printmaking courses at the Lake Placid School of Art during the summers of 1975 and 1976. She subsequently studied at the Pratt Graphics Center in New York City, where she was first introduced to mezzotint engraving.  

Developed in the 17th century, images in mezzotint engraving are achieved by roughening a copper plate using a tool with a curved serrated blade, called a rocker. The rocker's teeth plow up a field of burrs that, when inked, produces a rich black background. Images are drawn by erasing the burrs in increments so they hold less ink to print as lighter tones and print white where burrs are removed entirely. The resulting wide range of tonal gradations and textures made it ideal for reproducing paintings. 

Though mezzotint fell out of favor in the 19th century with the advent of photography, it experienced a resurgence as a means for creating original works of art in the 20th century due in large part to the publication of Wax's book The Mezzotint: History and Technique

In addition to her virtuoso work as a mezzotint artist, Wax is regarded as an authority on the history of the medium as well. Her groundbreaking publication on mezzotint is the result of the artist's frustrations with the limitations of technical knowledge available in the 1980s. This led Wax to conduct her own research into historical techniques, uncovering methods long out of use that could be revived for contemporary artists. The updated and expanded upon Second Edition of The Mezzotint: History and Technique, recently published by Schiffer Books, will be available for sale throughout the duration of the exhibition. 

Extraordinary Objects highlights Wax's use of mezzotint's unique qualities to reinvent antiquated machinery and vintage wares into lively gadgets and anthropomorphic objects. In her words, the work "…speaks to an inner life perceived in inanimate objects." Marrying the hardness of everyday items with the soft richness of mezzotint, Wax's subjects take on a life of their own, often with cheeky titles further humanizing the cameras, fans, phones, and other objects appearing in her work.  

Venturing through several decades of the artist's prints, Carol Wax: Extraordinary Objects is on view in the Childs Gallery Print Department April 5 through May 24, 2023.

On exhibit until May 24th, 2024