Art History Professor Jennifer Borland often uses objects from the OSUMA permanent collection in her classes. Last year she had particular success with her ART 2613: Art History Survey II class, and so she revisited that assignment with her Fall 2012 ART 2613 students. The OSUMA staff visited her classes for the student presentations, and selected the best to be showcased on the blog. This week, Kaitlin Little, Spencer Bradford, Emily Hill, and Danielle Youngwirth explore John Ross’s collagraph, Vortex.
John Ross is currently a professor of visual arts at Manhattanville College and has been for 22 years. He was also a teacher at the New School, and has been a printmaking workshop teacher for 50 years. His current line of work is illustration and design of limited edition books.
Vortex is a collagraph. Collagraphy is a printmaking process in which materials are applied to a rigid substrate, such as paperboard or wood. The word is derived from the Greek word “kolla,” meaning glue, and “graph,” meaning drawing. Vortex was printed in 1968 in an edition of 50. It is 20 1/4 x 25 1/2 inches, and was signed and titled in pencil in the lower left and right corners.
What’s in a name? The word “vortex” means: a) a whirling mass of water, especially one in which a force of suction operates, and b) something regarded as drawing into its powerful current everything that surrounds it, e.g., the vortex of war. The way that Ross composed his image gives it the feel of a machine, possibly an old engine. The mechanical appearance combined with the green-yellow colors give it the feel of a machine dating back to a World War. That appearance ties into the name Vortex, or the magnetic pull of war and the destruction in its wake.
Put together the vital components of shape, color, and texture and you have a piece that really stands out, despite its two-dimensionality. The shapes and color give Vortex its identity and form, while the texture allows it to jump out from the page, catching the viewer’s eye.
Student Kaitlin Little wrote of her experience researching Vortex, “We greatly appreciated the help of the staff and the opportunity to view a piece of the collection. OSUMA’s collection was extensive and it was a shame we could only pick one piece to present in front of the class.” We welcome students and faculty to use the collection in their courses! For more information, visit the Faculty Resources page on the museum website.