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Hanes Visiting Artist Lecture: Rob Swainston

October 25, 2016 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

Rob Swainston reminds us we are not just consumers of icons, but producers and observers of images.  All images are historically negotiated assemblages between humans, machines, materials, and social structures.  In a society where social knowledge and power have become pure image, the print technologies historically central to this transformation can act as a double-agent.  Artists working in print media can be chameleons moving between image makers and image reproducers.

Image reproducers are technocrats, proto-machines, and images-smiths in building the spectacle world order.  In their perfection, they ask no questions.  Artists are image makers showing an image constructed, built, repeated, overprinted, coded, decoded, and endlessly negotiated.  For the printmaker, the press bed is not a window of illusion, it is the space of social tinkering.  The artist is a hacker.

Rob Swainston performs this hack through two interrelated bodies of work—series of unique multiples and printstallations.  Installations such as ‘A New System Every Monday’ and ‘All that is Solid Melts into Air’ mix print media, sculpture, painting, drawing and video to point out architectural, institutional, historical, and social spaces.

Series of standardized works such as ‘Who Owns the Sky?’ and ‘Propositions’ move between representation and abstraction such that neither of these categories is important.  The viewer participates in an “archeology of uncovering”, discerning numerous processes and images containing multiplicities of narratives culminating in an uncovering of the “significant image” and the realization “I see myself seeing myself.”

Rob is currently Assistant Professor of Art+Design in Printmaking at SUNY Purchase College. Born and raised in rural Pennsylvania, Rob studied art and political science at Hampshire College, and subsequently lived and worked in Central Europe, pursuing postgraduate studies in political science at Budapest’s Central European University. He received his MFA in visual arts from Columbia University in 2006.  He attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2007, the Marie Walsh Sharpe Studio Program in 2009-10, the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center (winter 2011-12), the Bronx Museum AIM program (2015), the Robert Blackburn Printshop Fellowship (2012), and is alumnus of the Philadelphia art collective Vox Populi. Rob is a co-founder and master printer of Prints of Darkness, a collaborative printmaking studio in Brooklyn, NY. He has had solo shows with Marginal Utility, Philadelphia (2016,2013); University Galleries Illinois State (2016); Neuwerk Kunsthalle, Konstanz, Germany (2012); Esther Massry Gallery at the College of Saint Rose, Albany, NY (2011); David Krut Projects, NYC (2010); BravinLee Programs, NYC (2010); and Vox Populi, Philadelphia (2008 and 2009). Rob has been in numerous group shows at International Print Center New York (2016,2015,2014,2012,2011), Socrates Sculpture Park, Queens, NY (2013,11); Arlington Arts Center, Arlington (2012); Provincetown Art Association and Museum, Provincetown, MA (2012); Mellon, Brooklyn, NY (2011); NADA Hudson (Canada Gallery), Hudson, NY (2011); Mason Gross Galleries, New Brunswick, NJ (2010); Philagraphika at Seraphin Gallery, Philadelphia (2010); Canada Gallery, NYC (2008); The Queens Museum at Bulova, Queens, NY (2008) and the Frederic Snitzer Gallery, Miami, FL (2006). He has been featured in V-magazine, Art in Print, contemporary Printmaking books as well as the Printeresting, and Art21 blogs.

An endowment established in 1983 through the generosity of Nancy and Robin Hanes supports the Art Department’s Visiting Artist Series. This important program brings both established and emerging artists to campus to discuss their work in public lectures and to offer individual critiques to our M.F.A. students.  The Hanes Visiting Artist series greatly enriches both our academic programs and our outreach to the wider community.  All lectures are free and open to the public.

Artist website:


October 25, 2016
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Event Category:


Sabine Gruffat


121 Hanes Art Center
121 E Cameron Ave
CHAPEL HILL, 27514 United States
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